The power demands in the Eastern Hemisphere (China, Indonesia, India) are expected to grow several hundred percent over the coming decades, to say nothing of the growing demand here in the US. To meet this growing demand, it will be necessary to develop sources of power that are environmentally clean, abundant, and economically viable. One of the potential candidates for this is a space based microwave power station.
A space platform microwave power station would gather power from orbital solar collectors and beam it to collectors on the ground. Satellites in geosynchronous orbit would use solar panels to gather solar energy which would then be converted into microwave energy and beamed to the ground. On the ground would be stations which collect the microwave energy and convert it back into usable electricity for domestic and industrial use.
In order to keep the microwave beams from going astray and frying their way across cities, there would be multiply redundant fail-safes employed. The most common proposal is a laser alignment control – a laser at the ground station is centered on the orbiting station and picked up by a receiver; if the laser alignment between the orbiting satellite and the ground station is lost the orbiting station stops sending. The orbital power stations being envisioned could each supply several gigawatts of electricity to the ground facilities. The receiving stations on the ground would have to be several square miles in area to receive the power if it is transmitted in the 2.45 gigahertz band.
The environmentally destructive aspects of our energy use and growing demand are becoming increasingly apparent. The technology for this type of power station already exists, it is just a question of cost and safety as to whether it will be implemented anytime in the near future.