It seems like science fiction that a huge solar power station floating in space will provide a huge amount of electricity to the Earth. The concept was first proposed long ago in 1920 by the Russian scientist Konstantin Tsveikovsky.
However, now, a century later, scientists are working hard to make this idea a reality. The European Space Agency has realized its value and is considering funding such a project.
Scientists predict that the first industrial-level energy from the project will be in the form of a ‘powerful energy beam.’
The biggest problem of this era is climate change, so a lot is at stake. Climate change is already being felt around the world due to rising temperatures. To overcome this problem, we need to change the way we generate and use energy drastically.
In recent years, renewable energy technologies have made incredible progress with better performance at lower costs.
But one obstacle to their use is that they do not provide a permanent source of energy. The problem with wind or solar power is that it is generated when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining, but we need electricity 24 hours a day.
Ultimately, we need a way to store energy on a large scale before switching to renewable energy sources.
Benefits of space
One possible solution is to create solar energy in space. It has many benefits. A solar power station in space can receive energy from the sun 24 hours a day. The Earth’s atmosphere also absorbs and emits sunlight, so the solar station above the Earth’s atmosphere will have more sunlight and produce more energy.
But the biggest challenge is how to send, assemble, and deploy such large structures in space. Solar panel size can be up to 10 square kilometers, which is equivalent to 1400 football fields.
It is also difficult to use a lightweight structure in space, as the highest cost will be to send the station into space via a rocket. A proposed solution is to build a cluster of small satellites combined into space to form a large solar station or energy generator.
In 2017, researchers at the California Institute of Technology outlined a modular power station design that included thousands of ultra-lightweight solar cell tiles.
They also exhibited a 280-gram prototype tile that weighed just one square meter.
Recent advances in the manufacturing sector, such as 3D printing, are also being investigated for their use and utility in space. At the University of Liverpool, we are trying to find new ways to make lightweight solar panels.
These solar plates can support the spacecraft to run without oil while reflecting light and heavy light and facing the pressure of the sun’s radiation.
We are trying to figure out how to put solar cells on these plates so that large and non-oil power stations can be set up. These methods will help us build space or power generating stations in space. One day, it may be possible to build and deploy units in space from the International Space Station or the future lunar gateway station to orbit the moon. Devices like this can help us provide electricity to the moon. The journey of possibilities does not end here; although we are currently relying on earth-based materials to build power stations, scientists are also considering using space resources. But one of the biggest challenges ahead will be to transfer electricity to the ground. The plan is to convert electricity from solar cells into energy waves and transmit them to the Earth’s surface using antennae using electromagnetic fields.
This antenna will then convert the waves into electricity. Researchers led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency have already designed and tested the orbital system that should be able to do so.
Much remains to be done, but the goal is to make solar power stations a reality in space in the coming decades.
Scientists in China have developed a system called Omega, which they plan to make usable by 2050. The system will be able to transmit two gigawatts of electricity to the Earth, which is a lot of electricity. To generate this amount of electricity on Earth through solar panels, you will need 6 million solar panels.
The scientific community worldwide is devoting its time and efforts to building a power plant in space. We hope that these devices will one day prove to be very important in the fight against challenges such as climate change.