China eyes solar energy plant in space

China says it is working to develop a solar energy plant in space that could one day beam enough power back to Earth to light up an entire city.

Scientists had previously thought space solar plants (SSPs) would be prohibitively expensive.

But with Beijing pledging to invest 2.5 trillion yuan ($AUD518 billion) in renewable power generation – solar, wind, hydro and nuclear – by 2020, China might just have the financial firepower.

The state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation hopes to be operating a commercially viable solar space station by 2050, according to a recent report in the country’s official newspaper Science and Technology Daily.

Energy could be beamed to Earth via microwaves or lasers. But Pang Zhihao, a researcher at the China Academy of Space Technology, warned that the hazards potentially posed to humans, plants and animals by that process must be examined.