Hey, welcome back to the new physicist. Can you imagine, deploying solar panels in space, capturing and converting solar energy to electricity right from the space and send it back to earth wirelessly? interesting, right? Space-based Solar power!
In space, there’s no atmosphere, its never cloudy and in geosynchronous orbit, it’s never night. Yes, space is the perfect place for a solar power station to harvest uninterrupted power and can provide the earth with massive amounts of clean and renewable energy.
We know, On Earth solar power is greatly reduced by night, cloud cover, atmosphere, and seasonality. That means its intermittent. The main drawback of solar power. Moreover, some 30 percent of all incoming solar radiation never makes it ground level. In space its always shining, the tilt of the earth doesn’t prevent the collection of power and there is no atmosphere to reduce the intensity of sun’s rays. How it would be if we can harvest it?
An advanced photovoltaic cell in space can deliver up to 40 times the annual amount of reliable energy that the same cell would generate on the ground.
How Space-based Solar Power It Work?
Space scientists have roughed out designs for several different kinds of space-based solar power plants. But the basic gist goes like something like this. Launch and robotically assemble several hundreds or thousands of identically sized modules in geosynchronous orbit. Some look like an orbiting version of a telestial solar farm, with flat photovoltaic arrays stretching for miles.
A design for NASA called SPS alpha, by former NASA physicist John Mankins, instead arranges thin film mirrors into a bell shape that can redirect sunlight from almost any angle onto solar panels that convert the energy into electricity.
The Way back
The electrical current generated by an orbiting array can be sent to earth in one of two forms. It could be converted into a broad infrared laser beam or it could come down as a wider cone of microwaves radiation. In either case, the satellite would focus its transmitter on a large receiving station on the ground and a feedback signal would keep it from staying from its target.
To ensure safety the beam would be no more intense than the midday sun. Whereas The estimated cost of launching assembling and operating a microwave equipped geo satellite is in the tens of millions of dollars. It would likely require as many as 40 launches for all necessary materials to reach space.
Space-based solar power can provide a continuous free energy supply without any environmental impacts. And solar plant in space would need far less routine maintenance than those on the ground.
Unfortunately, from a public relations standpoint, both microwaves and lasers have negative connotations for most people because they associate microwaves with the oven in the kitchen and lasers with science fiction space battles.
But, we really do need a new way to power civilization. The fossil fuels that meet a lion share of the world’s energy needs are running out, and in the meantime, they are destroying the planet. Considering our energy needs are expected to double by 2100, we are in trouble. Yes, renewable energy technologies exist. But solar power the one with arguably the most promise for significant, scalable deployment is intermSun
Sun- Ultimate Power Source
Although the sun provides more energy in one hour than humans consume in a year, we can only tap into this power when the sun is shining. So, taking our solar panels from the ground to the Cosmos could be a great deal more efficient. It could also be the key to Humanity’s survival.