It is never easy to reconcile to the passing away of genuinely wonderful people.
And thus it would be with the sudden passing away of former India president APJ Abdul Kalam.
What a man!
In addition to his pioneering work on missiles, and later still his equally pioneering thoughts on a range of social and economic challenges, Abdul Kalam also called for space-based solar power.
If you think about it for a moment, you will realise what a genuinely good concept it is, if only somehow we could make it happen.
Sunlight at any point on earth is available only for 8-9 hours. And even that could be partially hindered owing to a variety of atmospheric conditions.
Now, consider for a moment solar panels in space. Sunlight is available to them at full irradiance for 24 hours. None of the atmospheric hitches would create any much trouble, because the panels are placed above the atmosphere.
A 1 kW solar panel in a sunny country like India generates about 4 kWh (units) in a day, in spite of the fact it lies outside for 24 hours.
A 1 kW solar panel in space will generate 24 kWh or close to it, because almost all the time, the solar panels will be generating near peak capacity. At this rate, solar power will be incredibly cheaper than what it is right now. And we might be able to get all our electricity without really needing to worry about fuel.
Now, you might justifiably ask: How on earth do we bring the electricity tens of thousands of meters below to our dear homes? That is not an easy one. But if you thought no one has a clue, read this: JAXA Scientists Transmit Wireless Power Through 170 Feet Of Air
Sure, it is going to be a while before we find large solar farms floating in space. But, when we do, we can all be proud that an Indian thought it up way ahead of most others.
APJ Abdul Kalam was ahead of his time in this, like he had been in most other things in his life.
The nation salutes!