This article was originally published on The Conversation. The publication contributed the article to Space.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Jovana RadulovicHead of the School of Mechanical and Design Engineering, University of Portsmouth
The UK government is considering a £ 16 billion project to build a solar system in space.
Yes, you read that right. Solar power in the air is one of the technologies featured in the government’s Net Zero Innovation Portfolio. It was seen as the potential result, among other things, that the UK could achieve net zero by 2050.
But how does the solar power system work in the sky? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this technology?
The power of the sun in the atmosphere is about collecting the sun’s energy in the sky and transmitting it to Earth. While the idea is not new, new technological advances have made it possible to achieve this idea.
The space -based solar power system is based on a solar power satellite – a large aircraft equipped with solar panels. These panels emit electricity, which is then transmitted to Earth via high -speed radio waves. A ground antenna, called a rectangle, is used to convert radio waves into electricity, which is then fed to a control panel.
A solar power center in orbit is illuminated by the sun 24 hours a day and therefore electricity can be maintained. This is better than solar terrestrial systems (systems on Earth), which can generate electricity only from the sun and rely on the atmosphere.
With global energy production projected to increase by about 50% by 2050, solar power generated in the atmosphere could be a key key to helping drive significant industrial growth. energy and global warming.
A solar power center is built on a modular platform, where a number of solar modules are assembled by robots into orbit. Taking all of this into the air can be difficult, expensive, and harmful to the environment.
The weight of the solar panels was found to be a primary problem. But this has been remedied through the development of ultra-light solar systems (solar panel is the smallest of solar cells).
The power of the sun in the atmosphere is thought to be due to the advancement of critical technologies, including the lightening of solar cells, electricity and space robotics.
Most importantly, adding only one power station per day would be necessary to keep the cars running. While solar power is designed to reduce carbon emissions in the long run, there are important concerns about air emissions, as well as costs.
Spacecraft can no longer be used, although companies like SpaceX are working to change this. The ability to reuse start -up systems significantly reduces the overall cost of solar power.
If we manage to build a solar -powered solar system well, its performance will also face some potential challenges. Solar panels can be damaged by air pollution. In addition, the panels in the atmosphere are not blocked by Earth’s atmosphere. The fact that the sun’s rays degrade faster than those on Earth, which reduces the power they can produce.
The efficiency of the transmission of electrical power is another problem. It is difficult to transmit energy over long distances – in this case from a solar satellite in space to Earth. Thanks to modern technology, only a small percentage of the sun’s energy is collected on Earth.
Pilot projects are just beginning
The Space Solar Power Project in the US is developing high -end solar cells as a conversion and transmission system designed for use in space. The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory has tested a solar module and space -switching system by 2020. Meanwhile, China has announced progress at their Bishan solar power plant, hoping to find a Operating system by 2035.
In the UK, the development of £ 17 billion in solar power is estimated to be a reasonable estimate according to a new report by Frazer-Nash Consultancy. The project is expected to begin with small trials, leading to an operational solar power plant by 2040.
The solar power satellite is 1.7km in diameter, and weighs about 2,000 tonnes. The terrestrial antenna covers a wide area – about 6.7km to 13km. Given land use across the UK, most are left out.
This satellite will provide 2GW of power to the UK While this is a huge amount of power, it is a small contribution to the UK’s potential, which is around 76GW.
With very high initial costs and slow returns on investment, the program requires government resources and investments from private companies.
But as technology advances, so does the cost of starting the space and making it work. And the scale of the project allows for more work, the lower the cost.
It remains to be seen if solar power can help us achieve net zero by 2050. Other technologies, such as energy conservation and energy efficiency, hydrogen and growth in energy systems that are well understood and can be easily used.
Despite the difficulties, the power of the sun in relation to the atmosphere is a prerequisite for interesting research and development opportunities. In the future, technology could play an important role in providing the earth’s energy.
This article is republished The Conversation under the Creative Commons license. Read to Original article.