China says they’re ready to put solar panels in orbit.

Not the kind on a self-sufficient satellite, but, as Nature tells us, the kind used to beam clean solar power back to Earth:

The idea of space-based solar power stations has been around for decades, and scientists in the United States and Japan have been working on proof-of-principle technologies. But the cost of launching massive industrial-scale stations, which could weigh up to 1,000 tonnes, is a major obstacle.

China is considering using 3D printing to create and construct stations in space to avoid launching the hefty weight.

The power stations would work by using photovoltaic cells to capture solar energy that is then transferred to antennas that transmit microwaves or radar to Earth. Receiving stations then convert the microwaves into electricity, which could be used to power electric cars, according to state media.

A facility to test the concept of the solar plant project is under construction in Chongqing in central China. The country hopes to have a series of small or medium-sized stations that orbit 36,000 kilometres above Earth between 2021 and 2025.