Solar power farms in space commercially viable, study proves

2 min read
Solar power farms in space commercially viable, study proves

A first-of-its-kind study has proven that solar power farms in space are a viable option for renewable energy generation — paving the way for the potential commercial application of the technology. The experiment was carried out by a team of scientists from the University of Surrey and the University of Swansea in the UK.

Specifically, the researchers monitored the performance of solar panels installed on a satellite over a period of six years and 30,000 orbits. Notably, they found that it’s indeed feasible to produce low-cost and lightweight solar panels that can generate power in space.

“We are very pleased that a mission designed to last one year is still working after six,” said Professor Craig Underwood, Emeritus Professor of Spacecraft Engineering at the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey. “These detailed data show the panels have resisted radiation and their thin-film structure has not deteriorated in the harsh thermal and vacuum conditions of space.”

For the study, scientists at the University of Swansey developed a novel type of solar cell technology using cadmium telluride. They claim that, compared to current alternatives, these panels can cover larger areas and are lighter, more powerful, and relatively cheap to produce.

Meanwhile, the University of Surrey developed the instruments that measured their performance in orbit. The satellite itself was designed and built at the Surrey Space Centre in collaboration with trainee engineers from the Algerian Space Agency (ASAL).

A CubeSat Satellite