And the Black World Said: Let There Be Light and PG&E Agreed to Buy Orbit-Generated Electricity from Solaren in 2016

April 14th, 2009

Ah yes, large satellites will beam vast amounts of clean energy from the sun to earth, 24/7, base load style.

Let’s try to look past the headlines…

First of all, this idea isn’t quite as old as the hills, but it’s at least several decades old, depending on what you consider to be the origin of it. Issac Asimov wrote about it in 1941:

If solar power from space seems to have a science fiction ring to it, it’s because it does.

The concept was first proposed in 1941 by science fiction author Isaac Asimov in his book “Reason,” about a space station that collects solar energy and beams it to Earth.

“The dots to which our energy beams are directed … are cold and hard and human beings like myself live upon their surfaces – many billions of them … Our beams feed these worlds energy drawn from … the Sun,” he wrote, theorizing microwaves for transmission.

So, what’s the story with Solaren, the company that’s allegedly going to supply PG&E with 200 megawatts of electricity from outer space, beginning in 2016?

D&B reports the company’s address as 32 MONTEREY CT MANHATTAN BEACH, CA 90266. Well, I don’t know about you, but all I see are condos near a golf course. Check White Pages and, yes, we’re looking at the CEOs housing complex. Ok, so Gary T. Spirnak, CEO of Solaren, is running this show from home.

With regard to investors, this CleanTech article states:

Solaren says it has a few million dollars in startup funding, but no paying customers, and its web site consists of one page with an animated company logo.

(You must see the website: solarenspace.com.)

According to Green Tech Media:

Calvin Boerman, Solaren’s director of energy services, told Dow Jones Newswires that the company is funded with seed money from Sprinak and other unnamed investors, and is actively seeking more funding.

Just so that we’re all clear on this: A guy called Gary Spirnak, listing his house as his company’s headquarters, has a plan to launch satellites into space to beam energy to the earth, and has attracted millions of dollars in seed money.

What is Gary Spirnak’s background? According to the Green Tech Media story above, Spirnak is, “A former U.S. Air Force spacecraft project engineer and director of advanced digital applications at Boeing Satellite Systems…”

Hold it right there. Gary Spirnak’s previous work dealt with black world military projects. But as director of that crypt at Boeing, he wasn’t just your average wrench turner. He would have been one of the high priests, with knowledge of multiple, absurdly compartmented projects.

Ahhhhhhhhh. Ok, so we don’t just have a guy in his house who managed to convince angel investors to hand over millions of dollars. We have a guy in his house, who has been involved with some of the most sensitive military secrets in existence, who managed to convince angel investors to hand over millions of dollars.

Maybe this is weird. Maybe it isn’t. But you know what it reminds me of? Iridium.

Billions of dollars in private capital were spent to build that thing, and after a spectacular bankruptcy, the CIA basically bought it for pennies on the dollar.

Would this Solaren bird really be used to generate clean power for PG&E. Maybe. Probably. What else might it wind up being used for? Let’s ask DARPA! The following is from Space-Based Solar Power As an Opportunity for Strategic Security, Report to the National Security Space Office, October 10, 2007:

For the DoD specifically, beamed energy from space in quantities greater than 5 MWe has the potential to be a disruptive game changer on the battlefield. SBSP and its enabling wireless power transmission technology could facilitate extremely flexible “energy on demand” for combat units and installations across an entire theater, while significantly reducing dependence on vulnerable over-land fuel deliveries. SBSP could also enable entirely new force structures and capabilities such as ultra long-endurance airborne or terrestrial surveillance or combat systems to include the individual soldier himself.

In short: The various death ray projects would have a viable power source.

Finally, I pulled the patent on the Solaren technology: U.S. Patent 6936760 Space-based power system.

What’s James E. Rogers’ background? He’s the first inventor listed on the patent, but I couldn’t find his name associated with Solaren in any other way.

Let’s be on the lookout for more interesting information on this.

Via: Next100:

As part of PG&E’s commitment to providing more renewable energy to its customers, the utility has supported a wide range of technologies, including wind, geothermal, biomass, wave and tidal, and at least a half dozen types of solar thermal and photovoltaic power.

Now PG&E is extending that approach to tap renewable energy at an entirely new level: solar power in space.

PG&E is seeking approval from state regulators for a power purchase agreement with Solaren Corp., a Southern California company that has contracted to deliver 200 megawatts of clean, renewable power over a 15 year period.

Solaren says it plans to generate the power using solar panels in earth orbit, then convert it to radio frequency energy for transmission to a receiving station in Fresno County. From there, the energy will be converted to electricity and fed into PG&E’s power grid.

9 Responses to “And the Black World Said: Let There Be Light and PG&E Agreed to Buy Orbit-Generated Electricity from Solaren in 2016”

  1. remrof Says:

    I wonder what the health effects of living near that receiving station would be?

    This can’t be a profitable approach to energy generation. Who is going to fund this, in this economy?

  2. ltcolonelnemo Says:

    Great post. To get a few million in funding, in theory, one need only show that one has some “technology” that could possibly be developed into a finished product. Charlatans often get a few million before they’re found out. A guy with this kind of background should have no trouble attracting capital.

    As for military applications, They never get tired trying to come up with new ways to kill people. However, I’m sure Russian, China, India, Japan, et al. will invest in coming up with cheap counter-measures like they always do. At the end of the day, it seems mostly about extorting money people by scaring them with threats that never materialize, unless its to scare people into paying.

    If the U.S. starts using its death-ray, I’m sure it can expect some sort of a asymmetrical attack on its infrastructure.

    http://www.schneier.com/blog/a.....rid_h.html

    http://it.slashdot.org/article.....8;from=rss

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/09/.....index.html

    If this technology can be made to work, it might make space exploration more plausible, which is what I wish all the military black-ops types would occupy their time with rather than figuring out how best to slit each others own throats.

  3. pookie Says:

    How about this James E. Rogers?

    http://www.juccce.com/index.ph.....;Itemid=52

  4. Eileen Says:

    Gee, I wonder if they’ve factored in all of the space junk up there blowing holes in their solar panels? By 2016 there’ll be so much junk orbiting the earth we’ll be seeing “shooting stars” on a daily basis. Now that’s reliable solar energy.

  5. skeevie Says:

    I like how when you move the mouse pointer over the guy’s website, CLEAN ENERGY and SAFE, RELIABLE POWER magically appear. And they’re green!

  6. Kevin Says:

    @ pookie

    Yes, this was my best guess as well, but I didn’t understand how he could be named as a co-inventor. His education shows business administration and law, blah blah… I thought I must have found the wrong guy.

    Is it possible that he’s listed as a co-inventor… I don’t know… as compensation for something?

    Anyway, this bio on this particular James E. Rogers was interesting:

    http://www.duke-energy.com/abo.....rogers.asp

    Rogers has been honored with various awards and recognition: The Jan. 5, 2009, edition of Newsweek named Rogers to The Global Elite list, “The 50 Most Powerful People in the World,” saying ”The CEO of Duke Energy could make dreams of renewable power a reality.”

    Mmm hmm.

  7. pookie Says:

    Well, now I’m thinking it’s this James E. Rogers, a VMI grad, who is on the board of Applied Materials Inc. in CA, the global leader in nanomanufacturing technology and also producing solar photovoltaic cells and flexible electronics.

    http://www.vmi.edu/show.aspx?tid=29405&id=478

    Notice his connection with AEA Investors. Here’s a little something penned by a managing director of AEA, who happens to be a retired admiral of the Navy and who recently headed up SAIC:

    http://www.americansecuritypro.....oes_matter

    SAIC, as many of you may know, is a huge military defense contractor with a rather shadowy rep. Admiral Owens was also a senior military assistant to Secretaries of Defense Frank Carlucci and Darth Cheney. Carlucci’s company is The Carlyle Group. Ex-CIA director Robert Gates is also a former board member of SAIC.

  8. dano5050 Says:

    Excellent criticism here:

    http://www.energyandcapital.co.....+shale/861

  9. Kevin Says:

    @ pookie,

    Yes, that James E. Rogers is interesting, too. I fully missed that SAIC link! Thanks.

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