Intersection of renewable energy and space exploration: Solar panels in orbit

By Ravi Kumar, Vice President of Oorjan Cleantech


The convergence of space exploration and renewable energy is a concept with incredible potential as humanity looks beyond our planet for answers to energy and environmental challenges. Solar panels in orbit have emerged as a remarkable solution to the ever-increasing global demand for clean and sustainable energy, but this has created an amazing confluence between these two fields.

Renewable Energy Imperative
The need for renewable sources of energy is now imperative in the world due to climate changes that is caused by burning of fossil fuels. This makes solar energy one of the most abundant and eco-friendly types of renewable power because you can see solar panels on your neighbour’s roof or at a solar farm located somewhere far away from your hometown.

Nevertheless, there are limitations that I am concerned about regarding terrestrial solar panels. On their part, they are known only to produce electricity during daylight hours, while factors like weather, dust and geographic location can affect their efficiency. These constraints demand alternative methods of capturing sunlight hence one promising avenue could indeed be found beyond our atmosphere.

Possible Uses of Solar Cells in Space
Renewable energy sector would never be the same again if solar panels were to be installed in space. Interplanetary journey in contrary to the one made on earth noticeable by the presence of weather changes and day-night cycles that give way to a unique environment where sunlight is available through space without the invisibility created by atmospheric disruptions. Hence the surplus of energy that will be stored can supply the demands for the whole day with the higher efficiency of this continuous production process. Furthermore, as features for such space solar panels can be included the most up-to-date technology that enables to increase output and to decrease the impact of wear.

Space-based solar power generation has the potential to address many of the challenges that terrestrial solar energy faces which include:

1) Continuous Energy Generation: In space there are no day/night cycles, or any other changes of weather around, so solar panels are harnessed in a constant manner. It of great importance that there is an assured regular supply of power.

2) High Efficiency: There is no haze to block or wide light range to disperse; the sun’s radiant energy reaches the panels more efficiently and that’s why this type of constructivity yields higher outcome since they produce more electricity than the land-based power plants.

3) Diminished Environmental Impact: The radiated diode (CO2) emissions from the fossil fuel will increase greenhouse gas concentrations and global warming that might change and disrupt the ecosystem, thus, risking the people (Birney & Bickford, 2014). That Solar power is land-use right independent and does not any direct impact on the habitat itself, it may, therefore, be regarded as an environmentally safe source of electricity.

4) Global Energy Distribution: Space-based solar power can be used to transmit an electric current in space that will possibly supply different parts of the world or the places continuously discovering natural disasters.

Challenges and Resolutions
The notion of space-based solar panels holds significant potential, yet numerous challenges necessitate resolution for practical and economic viability:
1) Financial Impediments: It is prohibitively expensive to shoot materials or tools up to space which therefore constitutes the main barrier. The critical one is addressed by cutting launch fees and promoting cheap solar panels spreading.

2) Effective Energy Transmission: Increasing the percentage of energy that can be transmitted from space to Earth with acceptable loss of efficiency is a technological challenge which scientific ingenuity aims to solve.

3) Space Debris Administration: As the space already over-flooded with satellites and solar panels the crucial issues of effective management of the space comfiture and obstruction prevention strongly arise.

4) Geopolitical and Regulatory Complexities: Concerning the existence of international agreements and regulations on the outer space that was regulated previously, the new developmental projects of space-based solar power need to be flexible and should be adjusted to absorb the changing environment.

Governmental agencies, private enterprises, and educational institutions are the main groups currently working on space solar power, which is the space-based implementation of solar energy. The Sun-power Satellite-Arbitrarily large phased array (SPS – ALPHA) launched by NASA was one of the first steps in the field of solar power satellites. Space X and the UAE are now collaborating to take things further and now solar power technology is moving rapidly.

Future of Environmental Energy with exploration of space
The prospect of supplying renewable energy and conquering space with the installation of solar panels in orbit is titillating. However, it is equally presumptuous. This convergence also ensures the usher of the never-ending renewable energy sources, which can not only sustain our energy requirements but also transform our perspectives about space and its permutations for an earthly existence. Space solar power is now entering the stage of development and will be the main power source, which will be combined with others to play a pivotal role in the future energy world. The implemented terrestrial, space-based solar power technology may be the invaluable ingredient that can help us to transition to a more sustainable and eco-friendly system of the energy where there will be no need to relying on fossil fuels any longer.

In conclusion, the integration of renewable energy and space exploration marks a new dawn of hope in which we can address most of the issues and challenges facing the earth. The ability to harness the sun’s unending power from the orbit may be the only hope to a greener and better future. Maybe the star has more answers and energy for us than we can imagine.

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