Sunsat Energy Council






Volume 1, Number 2

May, 2001


Editor: R. Bryan Erb

Phone:   (281) 244-7807

Fax:     (281) 244-7796

e-mail:   spacepower@


INTERNATIONAL   Wireless Power Transmission Conference


The Fourth International Wireless Power Transmission Conference, WPT '01, was held from May 14 to 17 in La Réunion. The picture below shows some of the conference participants in front of the "Industry Prototype" rectenna which was demonstrated. [Picture courtesy of Dr. Guy Pignolet, CNES].



Participants in WPT '01 and Industry Prototype Rectenna

INTERNATIONAL (Cont'd) WPT '01 Highlights


The Conference. The main conference venue was in St. Pierre, on the south side of the remote and very scenic island of La Réunion, a French territory in the Indian Ocean. Facilities and organization were excellent and it was clear that there was strong support from local governmental jurisdictions and industry as well as from the French space agency, CNES. There were five technical sessions and a closing "Round Table". Some 19 papers were presented, these representing over 40 authors from 6 countries - France, Germany, Russia, Japan, the United States and Canada. There were innovative technical issues addressed. For example, Dr. Richard Fork described an approach to "enhanced sunlight" rendered spatially coherent for projection over long distances (avoiding the spread of natural sunlight) and with the advantage of delivering 10 to 16 spectral components, aiding the conversion in PV systems. Also, Dr. Sergei Shaposhnikov proposed that an optimal energy projection system, that is one with a much more uniform power distribution across the rectenna, could be achieved with an array of discrete and discontinuous apertures in the transmitting antenna.


Industry Prototype Rectenna. Wireless power transmission (WPT) has been demonstrated in many locations over many years. However, it has almost always been carried out by space or other governmental agencies and/or university research groups. In La Réunion, the plan to install working pilot for actual power delivery has stimulated a major involvement by local industry. This rectenna is illustrated on the first page of this Newsletter. The prototype is designed to capture microwave power transmitted at a density of 5 milliwatts per square cm and a frequency of 2.45 GHz.


Grand Bassin Field Visit and Rectenna Site. The pilot installation on La Réunion will be in a deep and scenic valley, Grand Bassin. This valley is a popular retreat location and has a number of tourist lodges, Power for the community is presently provided by roof-top PV systems with a total peak output of about 15 kW. The PV panels charge conventional batteries to provide for nighttime power. A very limited backup is provided by a diesel generator, fuel for which is flown in by helicopter. As noted by one of the residents, "after a few days without sun we use a lot of candles". The WPT pilot will eventually provide a baseload supply of 10 kW.


Conference participants visited the bottom of the valley via helicopter to inspect the rectenna site and witness the operation of a permanent demonstration at the school in the community. The rectenna site is an agricultural plot some 20 meters in diameter. Transmission distance will be approximately 0.7 km.


Rectenna Contest. For the first time ever, a rectenna contest was held during the conference. Candidates had to fit their rectennas within a 1-meter cube and were supplied with a power beam as described above for the Industrial Prototype rectenna. There were three candidates and the winner was Yoshiyuki Fujino of Japan's Communications Research Laboratory. First prize was 5000 French francs.


Summary. In the closing Round Table, chaired by Bryan Erb, some of the non-technical aspects of WPT were addressed and it was agreed that issues such as preserving ISM bands and system ownership and management needed urgently to be addressed. Bruno Renard, the Regional Delegate for the French agency ADEME (Agency for the Management of Energy and the Environment) emphasized the importance given by the European Union to the development of renewable and sustainable energy sources. Representatives of local collectivities called for the creation of a mixed government/industry management structure to continue the development of the Grand Bassin Project.





INTERNATIONAL (Cont'd)   Journal of Space Power


As noted in the previous Newsletter, the Journal of Space Energy and Transportation (JSET), published by the Space Transportation Association has ceased publication. The Sunsat Energy Council will begin a new electronic publication, to be called the Journal of Space Power. A mockup is available on the Sunsat website (see below). Your comments would be welcome.


     Meeting with UNESCO


Members of the space power community (Mankins, Kaya and Erb) continued the dialog with representatives of UNESCO's World Solar Program during a meeting in Paris on March 26, 2001. The World Solar Program has been significantly restructured and staff changes have occurred. However, there is continuing interest in the space aspect of solar power. The new program manager, Mr. Akio Suzuki, offered to host next year's Space Power Forum in Paris.


     Meeting with International Energy Agency


Mankins, Kaya and Erb also met with representatives of the International Energy Agency (IEA) at the agency headquarters in Paris. The purpose of the meeting was to get acquainted and familiarize the IEA representatives with the notion of Space Solar Power. The IEA is an autonomous body within the framework of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). They are attempting to develop an international energy program via cooperative arrangements. Currently, such arrangements are in place with 24 of the 29 members of the OECD. Major emphasis is on "developing and deploying new, more efficient and less environmentally hazardous energy technology … as a bridge to a low-carbon future". The scope of the agency's work is very broad covering traditional fuels, renewables, end-use processes and nuclear fusion. The people with whom we met expressed a significant interest in the notion of SSP and would like to become better informed and participate in the 2002 Space Power Forum should it be held in Paris.



CANADA            Study on Applications, Issues and Opportunities


This study, initiated in 1999, has been completed and the findings were briefed at CSA Headquarters in St. Hubert by principals of the two collaborating companies, Dynacon Enterprises Limited and Kinectrics, Inc. World activity in space solar power was surveyed and opportunities for Canada were identified in several categories. Areas deemed particularly appropriate for CSA to pursue included a space-to-space application involving a beam-powered (laser) roving vehicle for planetary or lunar exploration and short-range terrestrial WPT for conveying power across difficult terrain or water.



CHINA              Symposium in Shanghai


The International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and the Chinese Society for Astronautics sponsored an International Symposium on Impact of Space Technology Innovation on Economic Development held in Shanghai, China, April 17-20, 2001. One paper presented at the symposium was by Bryan Erb on the role space solar power could play in sustainable economic development.








Additional photos of WPT '01 can be found on


The mockup of the Journal of Space Power is available on

Please review the approach and give us the benefit of your comments.


Founding Sunsat member William Maness is pursuing an entrepreneurial approach to solar power satellites. Details are available on his website:







Oct. 1-5    Space Power Symposium, International Astronautical Congress, Toulouse, including a special topic on frequency allocations with the IAA/IISL Scientific-Legal Liaison Committee

Oct. 21-25  World Energy Congress, Buenos Aires





We would like to note members new to the Sunsat Energy Council since the previous newsletter. Please welcome:


Denis Delbecq, Liberation

Richard Fork, University of Alabama in Huntsville

Donna Fork

William E. Maness, Power Sat Corporation

Sergei Shaposhnikov, Moscow Radiotechnical Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences



Quote of the Quarter


"Remember a year ago when two workers died in a nuclear power plant accident in Japan? Their deaths were in the headlines of every newspaper in the world. How many people do you think die every day in the coal mining industries of the world?


In America, we kill about 36 per year. In China, they reportedly kill 10,000 per "normal" year. The July 1976 Tangshan earthquake is believed to have killed 200,000 coal miners. …

If we assume that the developed world has a death rate per million tons of coal mined equal to that of the United States and that the Third World has a death rate equal to that of China, 55 people per day die in the world's coal mining industries. Few of those deaths make the headlines".

Lester C. Thurow

Professor of Economics, MIT


Excerpted from an article in USA Today arguing for a resumption

of power generation by nuclear fission plants.


For further information contact the editor.