Utility firm PG&E, California's largest, is approaching renewable energy in a much different way by completing a deal to be provided with solar energy from space starting in 2016.

The San Francisco-based group is seeking approval from state regulators for a power purchase agreement with Solaren Corp. a Southern California company that has contracted to deliver 200 megawatts of clean , renewable power over a 15 year period, PG&E said in a post on its blog

http://www.next100.com/2009/04/space-solar-power-the-next-fro.php target=_blank>Next 100 on Monday.

Solaren plans to generate the power using solar panels in earth's orbit, then covert it to radio frequency energy for transmission to a receiving station in Fresno County. From there the energy will be converted to electricity and fed into PF&E power grid.

This will be the world's first Space Solar Power plant. While a system of this scale and exact configuration has not been built, the underlying technology is very mature and is based on communications satellite technology, said Solaren CEO Gary Spirnak in an interview posted on the blog.

Spirnak explained that his company will use the same energy conversion process used for over 45 years, in which satellites have collected solar energy in earth orbit via solar cells, and converted it to radio frequency energy for transmissions to earth receive stations.

PG&E will buy the power from Solaren under an agreed-upon rate which hadn't been disclosed, a spokesman for PG&E told MSNBC. PG&E is not making an up-front investment in Solaren's venture, spokesman Jonathan Marshall added.