California Utility Wants To Go To Outer Space For Solar Power

California utility Pacific Gas & Electric is asking the state to let it set money on fire sign a deal with startup Solaren to purchase 200 MW of solar power.

And here’s the twist: This solar power will come beamed to the Earth from outer space. For serious. It will be the first of its kind if it goes through: 

So sayeth the Wall Street Journal: Solaren has agreed to ship an average of 850 gigawatt-hours of solar power in the first year of operation, sent by radio frequency from an earth-orbiting satellite to a station in Fresno. The energy-conversion technology has been used by communications satellites for 45 years, according to PG&E. If all goes according to plan, the project would begin operating in mid-2016. PG&E wouldn’t disclose the cost of the proposed 15-year contract, but said it would be above-market, according to documents filed Friday with the California Public Utilities Commission.

Solaren’s orbiting generator would beam power to earth continuously except during the spring and fall equinoxes, which last two to three weeks each, according to PG&E documents. Power transmissions could be blocked for anywhere from a few minutes to an hour around midnight during those periods, PG&E said, adding that such outages would be predictable and are included in the power delivery schedule.

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