Climate change is one of greatest challenges facing humanity and energy resources are one of the most important factors to bear in mind for the creation of a sustainable world. One potential solution could be space-based solar energy.
Of all the sources of energy for our planet, the Sun is one of the most powerful, at Solar MEMS we know this, and a large part of our technology is centred on our star.
The Sun is a source of renewable and inexhaustible power, with limitless potential to resolve our environmental problems and even the socio-economic issues derived from our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels.
However, it is not used as much as it could because of the problems entailed in exploiting it, such as the fact that it is not always available (in bad weather or at night) and the installation of solar or thermal panels requires a lot of space.
A solution: Solar panels in space. This would solve most of the problems, because, being outside the atmosphere, they would not be affected by the weather, and they can receive sunlight nearly all the time thanks to solar sensors such as those developed by Solar MEMS and, of course, there would be no limit to the space they occupy.
An additional advantage would be that the light captured by the panels in space would not be filtered by the atmosphere, making it brighter.
Space solar power has already been used since the middle of the 20th century on the solar panels built into satellites to provide the electricity they need to work, but there are still problems to overcome. The most important of these are the high cost of putting the solar panels into orbit and technical issues such as the efficiency of solar cells in space and how to transport the power generated to Earth.
Science has made countless advances since the end of the 19th century, and researchers in Europe, the USA and Japan continue to work to make this idea, which has the potential to solve many of the planet’s environmental problems, a practical reality.
In an interview with Manuel Rodríguez, CTO of Solar MEMS, he commented on the possibility of installing solar power plants in space, saying that they would “work in space like any solar power plants on Earth, so they would need sun sensor technology and solar tracking systems” like those developed by Solar MEMS for the main international organizations in the aerospace sector, like NASA or the European Space Agency.
“Solar panels can be oriented like sunflowers to maximize the energy we harvest from what we receive from the Sun”, said Rodríguez, who works every day to extract more of the Sun’s potential.
In order to advance, science has always relied on creativity for a boost, and ideas like putting efficient power plants in space as an alternative to fossil fuels, offering an unlimited energy source that neither creates waste on Earth nor emits polluting gases into the atmosphere, is getting a little closer to reality every day.