It is similar to science fiction: huge solar power stations floating in space, transfer energy in large quantity to the Earth. And for a long time this concept for the first time developed by Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in 1920, basically inspired by science fiction writers.
However, a century after it scientists achieve tremendous successes in embodiment of this concept in life. The European space agency has realised potential of these efforts and now tries to finance such projects, predicting that the first industrial resource which we will receive from space «energy beam».
Climate change – the greatest problem of our time, therefore on the stake is put very much. From increase of global temperature before change of weather conditions – climate change consequences already are felt all over the world. Overcoming of this problem will demand radical changes in how we make and we consume energy.
Lately technologies of renewable energy sources had sharp development, having raised efficiency and having lowered cost. But one of the basic obstacles for their mastering is that fact that they do not provide permanent stock of energy. Wind and solar farms make energy only when the wind blows or sun shines, but we need electricity round the clock, every day. Finally, the way of storage of energy in great volumes before we can pass to renewable sources is necessary for us.
Possible way to bypass it is to generate solar energy in space. In it there are many advantages. The space solar power station can rotate round the Sun 24 hours a day. The atmosphere of the Earth also absorbs and reflects sunlight, therefore solar elements over the atmosphere will receive more sunlight and to make more energy.
But one of key problems which are necessary to overcome is assemblage, start and expansion of such big designs. The area of one solar power station can reach 10 square kilometres that is equivalent to 1400 football fields. Use of easy materials will have also crucial importance as expenses for station start in space on the rocket will be the greatest expenses.
One of the offered solutions is to create a swarm of thousands of satellites of the smaller size which will be gathered and configured for creation of the uniform big solar generator. In 2017 researchers have developed the project of the modular power station consisting of thousands of extra light panels of solar batteries. They also have shown a prototype of a tile in weight of only 280 grams per square metre that corresponds to the card’s weight.
At the Liverpool University they study new industrial technologies for the press of extra light solar elements on solar sails. The solar sail is the collapsible, easy and well reflecting membrane, capable to use effect of pressure of sunlight for spaceship advancement forward without fuel. They study how to build in solar elements designs of a solar sail for creation big of non-fuel bearing solar power stations.
Transmission of energy to the Earth will be other serious problem. The plan consists in transforming electricity of solar elements to power waves and to use electromagnetic fields for their transfer downwards to the aerial on the surface of the Earth. Then the aerial will transform waves back to electricity.
All over the world the scientific community puts many efforts in working out of solar power stations in space. We hope that once they can become the vital tool in our struggle against climate change.