Fears Chinas solar panel space station could burn up the Earth if aimed wrong

Huge solar panel space stations built by China could burn up vast swathes of the Earth's land if they misfire, scientists fear.

China today announced plans for a solar energy station to orbit the earth by 2030 – hoping to generate 1GW of energy by 2049.

That's enough energy to power a big city.

But experts fear the sun's rays beamed back onto earth could cause near-apocalyptic damage to our planet if they're not aimed correctly.

Plans have been made to direct the sun's intense beams toward the open waters, avoiding land and vulnerable populations.

But scientists fear the effects of huge amounts of heat, light and radiation reflected back onto the Earth's surface – particularly if it hits land rather than the sea.

The wacky idea was first thought up by legendary sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov in the 1940s, but China's ambitious – and possible reckless – plans are set to make it a reality.

Space leaders in the UK are also considering adapting solar power station tech as an eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels.

Solar power stations work by converting solar power into electricity in space itself.

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Because the device floats above the atmosphere and orbits the earth to ensure constant exposure to the sun's rays, the panels get a remarkably steady stream of solar power.

The station then sends lasers or microwaves down to a "receiving system" on earth.

That farm of offshore panels then sends the solar-generated energy off to the local power grid, where people can access an unprecedented amount of sustainable energy.

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Head scientist Yang Shizhong told China Science Daily the government-backed proposal will be highly efficient.

He said: “The atmosphere, the change of seasons, the change of day and night, and the geographic location will have no impact on a space solar station."

Yet the out-of-the-box plan may be too good to be true.

The space stations will need to float around 35,000km above the earth's surface, quite some feat for an object so huge.

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The International Space Station orbits the earth around 250 miles above us – and has its fair share of maintenance issues already.

And there's the threat of an apocalypse in the event the microwaves and radiation reflected hit densely populated areas.

That could cause untold chaos for Earth's temperatures and even mess with the careful formula of gases swirling around us.

"Civilian and military researchers will look at applications for the technology amid concerns about radiation and the potential for beams misfired from space," the South China Morning Post reports.

With climate change already driving up global temperatures to near-unbearable highs, China's new plans for unlimited 'clean' energy could tip us over the edge.

Like many of the most ambitious space ventures generating excitement and intrigue, this one might be one giant leap too far.

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