Solar power is an important part of humanity’s clean energy repertoire. Many people power their homes by spreading sunlight-collecting panels into the solar field and decorating the roof with rectangles.
But be careful with this great power supply. Solar panels cannot collect energy at night. To work with maximum efficiency, you need as much sunlight as possible. Therefore, in order to maximize the performance of these suncatchers, researchers are tinkering with plans to send them to a place where the sun never sets, that is, in outer space.
Theoretically, when a bundle of solar panels is blown into orbit, they absorb the sun even on the most foggy days and the darkest nights, storing huge amounts of electricity. If that power is released wirelessly to Earth, our planet will be able to inhale renewable clean energy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
that is Significantly Reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Against the backdrop of a deteriorating climate crisis, the success of space-based solar power can be more important than ever. Climate conditions are in the limelight as world leaders gather in Glasgow, Scotland, and the COP26 Summit is held...
CNET science Focuses on several futuristic strategies aimed at helping countries reduce anthropogenic carbon emissions. Next-generation technologies such as space solar power cannot solve climate problems. Energy systems need to be decarbonized quickly, but green innovation can help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. By the end of the century limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
The unlimited supply of renewable energy from the sun may help us do that.
From science fiction to facts
For decades, space solar power has lived in the minds of science fiction lovers and scientists.
Early 1900s, Russian Scientist-Mathematician Konstantin Tsiolkovsky We have steadily created a futuristic design flow that assumes human technology that transcends the earth. He is responsible for getting things like space elevators and maneuverable rockets, and as you guessed it, Space solar power..
Since the first invention by Nokia Bell Labs The first concrete “solar panel” in the 1950sInternational scientists have been working to make Tsiolkovsky’s sci-fi fantasy a reality.They are included Japanese researchers, NS U.S. Army California Institute of Technology Team Leading the space solar power project..
“Space solar power was extensively investigated during the heyday of the Apollo program in the late 1960s and 1970s,” said Michael Kelsenberg, senior researcher at the project.
Unfortunately, due to the weight and bulk of the material, the technology of the era was not advanced enough to achieve feats in a cost-effective way. It was very difficult to send a classic solar panel into space via a rocket without breaking the bank.
Harry Atwater, Principal Researcher for the project, said: “This is essential to reduce both manufacturing and launch costs to make space solar power economical.”
Sky full of solar panels
Instead of using rockets to transport traditional solar panels into space, the California Institute of Technology team is advocating a new type of panel that is lighter, more compact, and foldable. They are proposing to send a large number of these airy mini-solar panels, which resemble tiles, into orbit.
Each tile has everything you need to harvest solar energy, including solar power. When connected in space, the small squares make an essentially huge renewable energy mine emerge around the globe.
The team has considered a variety of composites to create the ideal ultra-lightweight construction, but some are actually less effective when compared to earth-based solar panels. However, Kelsenberg states that “effectiveness” gains a new meaning in space.
“The increase in effectiveness really comes from the fact that by putting them in space, the sun does not have to pass through the atmosphere, so they get a lot of strong sunlight,” he said. “They also basically get in the sun 24 hours a day.”
When the sun illuminates these panels, they absorb a bundle of direct current or DC energy. The team’s mechanism converts that energy into radio frequencies. The next step is to reduce that power to Earth.
According to the team, it is caused by microwave radiation. Radio frequency energy is radiated toward our planet in areas reminiscent of desert solar energy. However, instead of regular solar panels, these areas include receivers with antennas that collect the collected energy.
It’s basically wireless energy transmission Nikola Tesla was famously hinted at in the late 19th century.
With such radiation, Kelsenberg says the system works in the rain and fog, at night and during mild storms, and only risks confusion due to the harshest weather. However, one frequently asked question about wireless radiation patterns is whether they adversely affect vegetation and land characteristics.
Atwater says it doesn’t matter.
“The power density we receive on Earth is equivalent to the power density of sunlight on a sunny day,” he explained. “And space solar power systems can be designed to be inherently safe in this regard.”
As a special safety measure, familiar measures can be taken, such as blocking the receiver zone, Kelsenberg said. Mobile phone towers that use a similar form of wave communication do the same.
The receiver planted on the earth acquires energy in the form of radio frequency and then converts it back to DC energy in cooperation with the ground station. It is converted to AC or AC power and supplied to the utility. Grid, Atwater said.
This is a complex process, but the last bit, AC power, is the usual old electricity that goes through your home socket to charge your iPhone and bring your laptop to life. It’s done.
Beam up the earth, Scotty
“The first space flight to demonstrate space solar component technology is currently scheduled for late 2022 on commercial spacecraft,” said Atwater.
The team never initiates a real deal, but conducts experiments demonstrating the feasibility of a small technology. It will be a makeshift, simpler form of the present invention. They even send many solar cells that have never seen a vacuum in space.
But one day, when space solar power becomes a reality, the world could change.
Not only can it power remote areas and balance the power grid to prevent power outages, it can also send energy to mining operations on other planets.
“Space solar power can be deployed in remote areas on Earth without existing utility grids, and it also produces base load power on the Moon and Mars through similar schemes of orbital power and beams to the surface. It can also be used for, “Atwater explained.
Most importantly, the energy that humans can generate from 24/7 solar power will be sufficient to meet the rising demands of our planet and replace nuclear and coal-fired power. is. “This represents a source of continuously available’base load’electricity, unlike solar panels on Earth,” Atwater said.
“That’s why we believe it can play an important role in the transition to a fully carbon-neutral power grid in the future,” Kelsenberg added.
Of course, there is a long way to go. Even if the team’s 2022 experiment is successful, there are legal questions regarding manufacturing costs to consider and occupancy of orbital space (there may be government restrictions). Questions remain about the practicality of replacing known power grids with space solar power plants.
But at the end of the road, we may find something golden.
“Sure, I can agree that getting cheap solar panels and installing them on the ground is much cheaper than launching them into space,” Kelsenberg said. “But the real advantage of space solar power is its ability to supply solar energy day and night.”
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