Russian Space Company Develops Method for Effective Transfer of Solar Energy to Any Spot on Earth
© Photo : Russian Space SystemsRussian Space Systems develops space solar power plant
© Photo : Russian Space Systems
Despite being one of the easiest and most accessible methods of gathering renewable energy, solar panels are unable to perform well in many spots of the world and in non-ideal weather conditions. In space, however, the effectiveness of solar panels increases significantly, prompting their wide use to power satellites and other spacecraft.
Russian Space Systems, a subsidiary of the Russian state company Roscosmos, has developed a project of an advanced space power plant capable of gathering solar energy and transmitting it to Earth.
"The new device can ensure the regular supply of green energy to hard-to-reach areas of the Earth, such as islands, mountains and territories in the north, regardless of weather conditions and time of day. It can also allow transferring energy to other spacecraft - for 'scheduled recharging' and in case of emergency", Russian Space Systems said in a statement.
The projected device consists of two parts. One of them is a 70-square-metre unmanned spacecraft gathering and accumulating solar energy to transfer to Earth. The second part of a ground station – an antenna array that will receive energy wirelessly from the spacecraft and distribute it.
The energy transfer will be carried out using a laser ray with "minimum" energy loss, the company said. At the same time, solar panels stationed in space can accumulate solar energy way more effectively than those on Earth, since there is no loss of energy in the atmosphere and there are no clouds to prevent the energy from reaching panels.
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The spacecraft will also have the capacity to store energy surpluses. It will have a control unit that will balance the distribution of accumulated energy and software, which will allow for more accurate targeting of receiving antennas with the laser beam, the company said. Russian Space Systems did not specify what portion of energy will be lost in the transition, and whether it will be building a working prototype of the new device.
Experiments with wireless laser-based energy transfers are among the priorities for research at the scientific module of the Russian section of the International Space Station. There have been no reports as to what discoveries this research has yielded so far, but it's possible that the findings will bolster the ambitious project of Russian Space Systems for space-based energy generation.