Solar energy from space: the future of energy - VIDEO PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 24 December 2014 17:34

In space there is no atmosphere, there is never going to rain, and in geostationary orbit never the night: it is an ideal location for solar power, which will collect energy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. $ CUT $
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USA, China, India and Japan are already developing their own projects, which will include robotic arrays of solar panels that will guide the Earth a huge amount of clean and renewable energy without wires.

Some options would be sent up to 1 GW of energy by means of rays on Earth - enough to power a major city. According to Paul Yaffe, aerospace engineers from the Research Laboratory of the US Navy, the concept is absolutely justified scientifically.

«NASA and the US Department of energy conducted a study in the late 70s, which cost them $ 20 million, and a detailed study of the concept, - says Jaffe. - At that time, all came to the conclusion that the problems with the physics no, but there are questions about the parts of the economy. "

The main problem - the cost of a number of space launches, which are necessary for the construction of the satellite transmitting energy. Given the cost of running a $ 40 000 per kilogram in some cases, the final price of the first space solar power plant may reach $ 20 billion.

Private Contractors

As we enter the era of private space exploration, which significantly reduces the cost of launch, the basic physics says that the delivery of goods into space is very expensive.

"This topic is reviewed every 10 years, when technology is changing, and so is changing and the economic aspect of the issue."

Jaffe says that the war in the Middle East has given new impetus to the development of space solar plants, as scientific engineers are faced with the problem of energy delivery into hostile areas. Numerous hidden and receivers could catch the cosmic energy and provide the military, which would not have to haul dangerous and costly diesel generators by water or air.

"If you could produce electricity from space, you probably would have thought."

security Issues

There are two ways to deliver energy to the earth: in the form of laser beams or microwaves.

Option with laser beams includes sending small satellites transmitting lasers in space and relatively low cost, from $ 500 million to $ 1 billion. Self-assembling satellites to further reduce costs and lasers small diameter will be fairly easy to collect on Earth.

But with the issuance of from 1 to 10 MW many satellites need to provide sufficient energy. In addition, the satellites will have problems with laser transmission during cloudy or rainy weather.

Option with microwaves involves seamless transfer during rain, snow or other weather conditions and can transmit gigawatts of energy.

Microwave technology, according to Jaffe, there are many decades: in 1964, scientists were able to transfer energy to the helicopter using microwaves. Jaffe says that when a large area of the microwave transmitter will be so scattered that it will not pose a danger to life. But the main disadvantage is the need for hundreds of launches into space that will build the space station. All this translates into tens of billions of dollars.

"Unfortunately, it is worth noting, society does not like microwaves and lasers, microwaves because often associated with microwave oven in the kitchen, and lasers - with space battles in science fiction."

energy sandwich

The study Jaffe, focused on the so-called "sandwich modules" - solar cells that convert Sunlight into energy. One side of the "sandwich" receives solar energy using photovoltaic panels, in the center of electronics converts the current into radio and the antenna on the other side sends the beam to the ground.

"People probably do not know that radio waves can transfer energy - says Jaffe. - As used to think about in the context of radio communications, telephones or televisions. They do not think about the fact that radio waves can transmit energy. "

Despite the fact that all technologies are available to equip the space solar cell, Jaffe believes that the first such station will be more soon. Even despite the fact that the Japanese have done such a station by one of the pillars of its space program.

"Without the research base that we have in the US, for example, explores the fusion energy as soon as we make progress. If the Japanese succeed in the next five years, people can talk about why we do not do anything. "

Ultimately, says Yaffe, it is difficult to say that this idea is viable as long as you do not actually try to implement it.

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