Solar Electric Panels and the Future

Solar electric panels are used for both home and business applications, but they are also used in space by the astronauts. 

The future of solar energy is being theorized and practiced by NASA and commercial space companies. 

Solar energy is playing a crucial factor in the exploration of Mars, and the plans for the inevitable colonization of mars.

It is a very exciting time to live, and solar power is one the technologies that is leading the way to both a sustainable earth, and our trek into space.

The rest of this article will be dedicated to breaking down what could very well be the future of solar energy.

The concepts being theorized are theoretical, visionary ideas that could help change the course of space exploration and human development.

The Future of Solar Energy Lies in the Final Frontier

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Space-based solar power (SBSP)

Space-based solar power (or SBSP for short) is a possible hopeful for the future of solar energy.

Here is a basic break down of SBSP:

  •          SBSP is the concept of collecting solar power via solar electric panels in space
  •          SBSP differs from current solar energy collection technology only because the solar panels are mounted on orbiting satellites
  •          SBSP offers a higher solar collection rate and longer collection periods since it doesn’t have to contend with the earth’s atmosphere

  •          The solar satellite collects the solar energy and transmits it back to earth via a microwave transmitter or a laser emitter
  •          The beam of solar power is then directed to an earth based solar collector called a rectenna

Advantages to SBSP

  • There is no atmospheric interference in space, so the solar electric panels are able to collect more power
  •  Collecting solar energy in space is 144% of the maximum that we can collect from earth based solar energy systems
  •   A solar satellite orbiting the earth will be collecting solar power 99% of the time
  •   Solar satellites are only in the earth’s shadow 75 minutes per night

  •   The ability to quickly redirect solar electric power to any geographical location
  •    Eliminates any interference with earth’s natural habitation

Disadvantages to SBSP

Of course, the SBSP program has some serious hurdles to overcome if it hopes to become the future of solar energy.

Here is a list of those hurdles:

  •          The large amount of money that is required to launch a satellite into space
  •          The cost of transporting astronauts to perform maintenance

  •          The solar electric panels suffer about 8 times the amount of degradation a earth based solar power system would
  •          Only has a life span of about ten years making it difficult to produce enough power to be economical

Building From Space as a Solution

There are also a number of other methods being considered for the future of solar energy.

From building solar power stations on the moon, or capturing asteroids, the future of solar energy is getting hot! 

Here is a break down of the facts about these futuristic approaches:

  •    The moon would be a great location for solar power stations

  •     We could use lunar materials via in-situ resource utilization
  •      Use a teleoperated mobile factory and crane to assemble the civrowave reflectors
  •      Use rovers to assemble and pave PV cells

Building on asteroids

  •          Asteroid mining is being considered by NASA
  •          A NASA design study evaluated a 10,000 ton mining vehicle (to be assembled in orbit) that could return a 500,000 ton asteroid fragment to geostationary orbit

  •          One such proposal is to capture the asteroid Apophis into earth’s orbit and convert it into 150 solar power satellites 5 GW of power each

Reality or Science Fiction?

A little of both right now!

Yes, all this certainly could work if NASA and other commercial space companies can come to agreements on how best to do these futuristic SBSP projects. 

But, for right now they are merely theoretical, due to lack of funding mostly.

And, may be a little human will to achieve amazing things is needed, both from the technical community and the lay man community. 

Either way, there is no doubt that solar electric panels in space are only starting to blast off the ground and pave the way into humanities’ bright and prosperous future.

Do what you can now to help

But, just because space based solar power may still be experimental, does not mean we should not be doing what we can to achieve a sustainable existence here on earth. 

So, rather its small, or big, start implementing solar electric panels into your life, and help build that bright and prosperous future!

The Future of Solar Energy is in Our Hands.

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