Outer space beaming solar power seems like a Marvel movie story, but space could remove obstacles to solar approval that rule the conversation of Earthbound. Might the key to our renewable energy be solar panels just above the clouds or perhaps above the Karman line entirely? As Tina Casey of CleanTechnica reports, besides the technical problems of even bringing solar panels up in orbit, the advantages are relatively airtight. There have been no clouds to obstruct or otherwise decrease the effectiveness of solar panels. To optimize access to even more sun over a longer period per day, they will pivot, maybe even absolutely openly. The sunlight outside of the Earth’s atmosphere is more robust.
Even the finest solar panels are hitting 30% to 40% performance right now, and they are all cutting-edge designs built for testing by physicists, not those you would quickly afford. That implies that the immense gain of higher-up sunshine, perhaps also the disparity between viable solar and not, will be explicitly converted. However, again, that’s without the complexities of positioning panels in the space. At this stage, the “beam” control technology is fairly developed, based on guided mirrors as well as receiver panels that concentrate energy through beams that work, essentially, across the air like wireless wires.
Without sacrificing significant capacity, the right type of solar panels combined with storage may regularly beam power to particular locations. Earlier in the month, for its upcoming Arachne spacecraft, the critical part of the Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research (SSPIDR) programme, the Air Force Research Laboratory revealed a feature coyly called Helios (after the ancient Greek sun god). Arachne will arrive in 2024. For the other spacecraft, Helios can gather fuel, making it an essential piece of research and proof of concept for some main ideas that NASA has about flying to the moon and then to Mars.
We’ll undoubtedly learn a lot about solar energy use in space and only determine whether it makes sense for the tests to spread to Earth. Thanks to its abundant and entirely sustainable existence, solar is crucial to our deep spaceflight ambitions, saving precious weight and minimizing the use of hazardous chemicals on already dangerous flights.
Will this mean that we’ll see space-beamed solar beams on electromagnetic radiation during the next decade? Okay, in the 2020s, the sole sure thing about the energy landscape is that we just don’t have much clue. The elimination of fossil fuels would mean a massive wall against which many of the most creative people globally are tossing all their spaghetti concepts at the moment. And it might be that space solar is something that lasts.