Sunday, April 14, 2024

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Solar Panels In Space Can Send Energy Anywhere on the Planet

Solar panels in space, or space-based solar panels (SBSP), have the potential to collect and store energy in space. And this energy can then be sent to any location on Earth using a microwave beam.

While this technology may sound like something from the future, it’s already in the early stages of development. A team of Pentagon scientists successfully tested a solar panel in space in May 2020 that was the size of a pizza box.

In a few years, energy from space could be used to help communities recover from natural disasters. Or even provide energy to electric grids that are overloaded, like Texas.

Is It Different From A Normal Solar Panel?

Solar Panel

The sunlight in space is quite different from what we receive on Earth.

When sunlight passes through the Earth’s atmosphere, blue light does not make it to the ground. In fact, this is actually why the sky is blue. Thus, solar panels on Earth are not designed to receive blue light.

However, in space, solar panels will pick up this type of light.

The SBSP will also operate at lower temperatures. After all, space is freezing cold. This presents a unique opportunity because electronics are more effective in cold environments.

And another key difference will be that the panels will send energy to Earth. However, this feature was not on the prototype sent to space. Thus, we must wait for further details.

For those wondering, the technology for transmitting energy is safe.

Solar Panels Provide Relief During Natural Disasters

The main advantage of this system is the ability to send the energy anywhere in the world (as long as they have the necessary receiver in place). This will allow SBSP to send energy to areas struck by natural disasters.

In fact, solar panels are already used when natural disasters strike.

For example, in 2017 when Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, the electrical grid was destroyed. Much of the country was without power for weeks and in many cases, it took nearly a year for the power to be restored.

In response to this, solar panels were used to help distribute electricity to communities in need. Elon Musk himself donated hundreds of batteries to help create micro-grids while the power was being restored.

And recently, the failure of the Texas power grid in response to a winter storm had millions without power. This technology acts as a solution to the problem because we could send power to the state’s electric grid.

There’s Always Sunlight

One of the biggest problems solar panels on Earth face is not being able to collect energy. Weather patterns can disrupt their ability to collect energy, and at night, our planet is not facing the sun. Thus, no electricity.

However, this isn’t an issue in space.

At any given time, only half of the world is able to collect energy with solar panels. SBSPs will be able to constantly collect light, which means they can provide fuel-free energy around the world, regardless of the time of day.

Solar panel technology has, indeed, a bright future on Earth and in space.

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Robert Giaquinto

Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.

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