Solar energy is produced directly from space. Is this even possible?


2019-01-04 19:30:19




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Solar energy is produced directly from space. Is this even possible?

More than seventy years ago, in 1941, Isaac Asimov wrote a story in which the sun's energy passed through the microwave rays to a neighbouring planet with space station. Years passed, and today scientists are trying to turn this science fiction into reality on the Ground. The concept of using solar energy obtained from space, or directly into space shall be developed from the mid-20th century. A lot of projects waiting in the wings.


Solar energy

Using solar power in space (SBSP), we could solve our problems with energy and greenhouse gas emissions with minimal impact on the environment. Professor Sergio Pellegrino of Caltech, recently said that the massive energy production of the system SBSP and the fact that our sun will run another 10 billion years, allow us to assume that the energy source we'll never run out for a long time.

One of the most extensive research NASA all the time, Satellite Power System Concept Development and Evaluation Program, focused on SBSP and cost more than $ 50 million, it was conducted from 1976 to 1980. Another fundamental study, funded by NASA to revaluate and understand the feasibility of SBSP, called Space Solar Power Exploratory Research and Technology. The study included a huge amount of solid scientific research, but the overall conclusion was:

"large-scale SSP is a very complex integrated system of systems that requires numerous significant advances in current technologies and capabilities. The developed process map, which identifies potential paths for achieving all needed breakthroughs — although within a few decades." — John S. Mankins, 7 September 2000.

It is Clear that nothing is clear. Let's take a deeper dive into the basics of this exponential technology and its feasibility.


What is solar energy obtained from space?

Solar energy produced in space is the concept of capturing solar energy in space and transfer it directly to Earth or other nearby planets.

Simply put, we could put some mechanism in outer space to almost continuously to capture the Sun's energy and transmit this energy to Earth. This can happen day or night, in the rain or under clear skies. As soon as we receive the energy on Earth to rectenna (special antenna to obtain energy), we can easily distribute it using our regular methods. It's very simple.

There are many ideas associated with the configuration and architecture of the SBSP mechanism that we could use. The location of the system architecture of satellites that collect energy and transfer of energy are the main major items that you should pay attention to when understanding the different SBSP systems. Given the number of proposed concepts, we consider only some of the most notable options.


Where to place a production system of solar energy?

Geosynchronous, she's geostationary (GSO) orbit, medium-earth (GCE) and low earth orbit (Leo) — here are the options for consideration. The most promising is the GSO due to the simplified geometry and alignment of the antenna relative to rectenna, scalability, and near-continuous transmission of energy. The main problem of GEO — large amount of radiation. Shared space dangers, such as micrometeorites or solar flares also pose a threat.

Satellite architecture

Create a lunar factory with lots of traffic or develop the asteroids for Assembly or self-Assembly of SBSP satellites — in any case, the creation of Autonomous space factories will be challenging. Any construction in space will require the use of local and free materials (i.e. lunar), this imposes certain restrictions on the complexity of the structures, when compared with those that can be built on Earth.

One interesting plant we are now building on the Earth, is a modular solar battery development Caltech and Northrop Grumann. Look at her in the video below.

Another interesting concept from a private company, Solaren. In the future she plans to experiment with the construction of solar power SBSP 250 MW in geostationary orbit. In 2009, Solaren has signed an agreement with major energy company in California PG&E to provide space solar energy.

Even NASA with the concept of an arbitrarily large phased array (designed in 2012) has attracted recent attention from the John S. Mancini, one of the leading experts in the world SBSP.

How to collect the sun's energy in space?

Two basic concepts related to the collection of energy is using photovoltaic cells (solar panels) or solar heat. You can catch the sun's heat (and hence energy), using mirrors to concentrate light and heat the liquid. The steam, in turn, will rotate the turbine and produce electricity. This concept has a certain weight advantage compared to solar panels, because it reduces the total weight per watt. However, most of the concepts you intend to use Sverige and high-efficiency photovoltaic elements.

How to transfer the sun's energy from space?

Microwave transmission of energy — a typicalchoice SBSP designs for overall efficiency, but the use of energy transmission by laser beam is another interesting option because of the reduced weight and cost. However, at the thought of a powerful laser beam, there is concern that it can be turned into a space weapon (death ray). However, security protocols could easily eliminate this threat. Designs can be tailored to all requirements for safe levels of microwave energy. There will be no threat to the residents of cities and living beings in the path of rays to the earth. Simple feedback between the antenna and rectenna would cut down the transmission if it deviates from the course.

Now that we better understand what is SBSP, let's dive in its greatest limitations.


installation Cost of transferring the cosmic energy

It May seem that everything is fine and the sun is billions of years old provide us with free energy. However, there's always a catch. We have already noted a number of security issues, but the main obstacle is the shipping costs of all materials needed for SBSP. Current estimates of the cost of sending approximately 1 kg of payload into space ranging from 9,000 to 43,000 U.S. dollars, depending on the rocket and spacecraft.

If we look only to send solar panels, the lower limit of the range of costs to start ultralight SBSP system with a capacity of 4 MW is 4000 metric tons. But most likely, the SBSP will be in the range of 80,000 metric tons.

Low score: 4000 metric ton x $ 9,000 per kilogram = 36 000 000 000 $

High score: 80 000 metric tons x $ 43,000 per kilogram = 3 440 000, 000, 000 dollars

Although these figures are very approximate, we still get the approximate value from $ 36 billion to 3.4 trillion dollars. The use of a factory on the moon or an asteroid suddenly seems cheap.

The results of the studies by NASA show that space solar power is "economically viable" if the start-up costs will fluctuate in the range us $ 100-200 per kilogram. Although prices continue to fall, also thanks to the reusable rockets SpaceX is still a long way to go. However, this trend is to follow the law of accelerating returns ray Kurzweil, and the price of launches will continue to decline with billions and millions to a few hundred dollars.

Needless to say, the problem is not technology and its value.


the Future of solar energy

The Ability of SBSP to provide clean and reliable energy for the planet around the clock and seven days a week is cheaper than any other source — is absolutely real. But it will take decades of investments, Assembly, testing, and successful implementation before the system will begin to recoup their initial costs.

And yet, a crucial component of promoting SBSP as an actual source of energy is the right political climate.

Why do we need solar energy?

If you do not take into account the policy, after receiving SBSP (or nuclear fusion) in the next decade, we could implement such scientific concepts:

  • Space elevators and space tower
  • the
  • Orbital ring — using the space elevators, to create a ring around the Earth instead of a space station for the cheap movement of materials and the exploration of space
  • the
  • Dyson Sphere — a giant shell, covering the whole star and absorbing all of its energy output
  • the
  • nested doll brains is the flaky areas Dyson for turning stars into massive computers using the energy released by all stars
  • the
  • Worlds-rings — an artificial planet using a star

A lot of Options. It remains only to invent and develop. Suggest? Start in our


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