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Opportunities in Power Beaming for Micro Renewable Energy

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Investigating Alternative Energy Concepts

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1125.1 - 22.1125.12



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Paper Authors


Narayanan M. Komerath Georgia Institute of Technology

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Professor, Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering

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OPPORTUNITIES IN POWER BEAMING FOR MICRO RENEWABLE ENERGYThis paper will describe experience with students learning how to go about developing advanced conceptswhere they must cross discipline barriers, and venture well beyond today’s technological frontiers. Thespecific subject area is in the idea of bringing beamed, narrow-band millimeter-wave power to remotevillages where there is no access to the electric power grid. This is a required step to integrate renewablepower generation concepts into a real-time power exchange, making them viable baseload generators inoff-grid areas.In many applications spread out over the world, delivery of electric power by means of narrow-band beamsinsteady of wires is an attractive alternative. Retail delivery of electric power through millimeter waves isespecially relevant in developing areas where the market for micro devices outpaces the power gridinfrastructure. It is also a critical component of an evolutionary path towards terrestrial and space-basedrenewable power generation. Narrow-band power can be delivered as focused beams to receivers near end-users, from central power plants, rural distribution points, UAVs, stratospheric airship platforms or spacesatellites.How does one go about developing such an idea? This is the subject of this paper. We first survey the availableknowledge base on millimeter wave beamed power delivery. We then consider design requirements for a retailbeamed power architecture, in the context of rural India where power delivery is lagging behind the rapid risein demand for microdrives and connectivity.The full paper will present the development of architectures for beamed power delivery, as an example of howadvanced concept development is performed. The experience of working with students at different levels in thisendeavor will be described, based on several years of such efforts.Despite low end-to-end efficiency, millimeter wave technology offers attractive architectures for ruralbeamed power delivery. In this paper we present reasons why retail beamed power transmission systems(BPTS) at such frequencies offer attractive options, viable in the not too distant future. Rapid developmentof an information-based economy creates a widely dispersed demand for small amounts of power, indeveloping parts of the world. Rural India is a prime example. Rapid acceptance of cell (mobile) phonesshows popular apetitte for useful technology, even at costs that seem very high given the local incomelevels of the recent past. The same reasoning that helped popularize cellphones, viz, the utter inadequacy ofthe land-line telephone infrastructure, holds for the electric power grid as well. This poses a window ofopportunity for options that are compatible with micro renewable energy systems at the single family level,and a space-based global solar powerStudent participants in this concept development over the years, have been at levels ranging from freshmento PhD students. Their ways of exploration, knowledge extraction, validation and innovation are discussedin the paper. ACKNOWLEDGMENTSThe author gratefully acknowledges the support from NASA under the Innovations in AerospaceInstruction initiative, through the “EXTROVERT” project developing resources for cross-disciplinarylearning. Mr. Anthony Springer is the technical monitor. The work reported here includes the contributionsfrom several enthusiastic students at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Komerath, N. M. (2011, June), Opportunities in Power Beaming for Micro Renewable Energy Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18577

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