power plant solar power is already being built on Earth. But the European Space Agency ( ESA ) will make it in space . What is the goal?
ESA said that the development of solar power plants in outer space is a response to climate change on Earth which continues to be a big challenge.
Increasing global temperatures to erratic weather patterns have forced humans to change the way they produce and consume energy.
Renewable energy technology can be the answer, but it has problems in energy absorption that is not constant, as reported by IFL Science .
On Earth, new energy can be obtained when the wind blows and the sun is shining, while humans need electricity all the time.
The most likely way to work around this is to produce solar energy from a place that is always reached by light, namely in outer space.
This option has many advantages. Space-based solar power plants can orbit facing the Sun in 24 hours.
The Earth’s atmosphere also absorbs and reflects some of the Sun’s light, so solar cells above the atmosphere will receive more sunlight and produce more energy.
But one of the main challenges that must be overcome is how to assemble, launch and implement such large structures.
A solar power plant should probably have an area of 10 square kilometers or the equivalent of 1,400 football fields. Designers should use lightweight materials, given that the biggest cost lies in launching into space on a rocket.
One proposed solution is to develop thousands of smaller satellites that will be bundled together and configured to form one large solar generator.
Earlier in 2017, scientists at the California Institute of Technology outlined a design for a modular power plant, which consists of thousands of tiles of ultralight solar cells. The team of experts also demonstrated a prototype tile weighing only 280 grams per square meter.
Reporting from IFL Science on Saturday (12/12/2020), another big challenge is getting the power sent back to Earth.
Scientists plan to convert electricity from solar cells into energy waves and use electromagnetic fields to transfer it to antennas on Earth’s surface.
The antenna will convert the waves back into electricity. Previously, a team of scientists led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency had developed designs and demonstrated an orbiter system that could do this.
While much work remains to be done in this area, scientists hope solar power generation in outer space will soon become a reality in the coming decades.
Scientists in China have designed a system called Omega which is targeted to be operational by 2050. The system is expected to be able to supply 2GW of power to Earth’s grid.
In comparison, to get that much power with solar panels on Earth would require more than six million solar panels.
That’s the plan of a European space bandan who wants to build a solar power plant in outer space.