The Japan Space Agency, along with Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and IHI Corp., are getting even closer to next big thing: harnessing the power of the sun with a solar collector in geostationary orbit. Now there's cold hard cash involved. The plan is to drop $21 billion into a solar power generator that beams electricity to Earth via microwaves. The 1-gigawatt solar station will gather sunlight with a gigantic array of solar panels that is 4 square kilometers big.
While such an idea might be ahead of its time, Japan confidently predicts this first solar power space station will be online within three decades. Leave it to Japan to take our entire civilization ever closer to the day when we'll finally be a Type 1 civilization on the Kardashev scale. By the way, a type I civilization is able to harness all the power available on a single planet.
Actually, these Japanese innovators will be moving us closer to being a Type 2 civilization, which is able to harness all the power available in a single star. We would probably need to surround the Sun with solar panels to do such a thing, but Japan is off to a good start. Meanwhile, those innovators need to calm down the fearmongers, chattering about how those death rays of from space could kill us all.