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Solar power stations in space - a revolutionary idea, or a pipe dream?

23 Mar 2016, 12:52 UTC
Solar power stations in space - a revolutionary idea, or a pipe dream?
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Above: An artists impression of a space based solar power station. Courtesy of NASA'Solar panel power stations in space'..... if you're anything like me (or even if you're nothing like me but can spot the obvious a mile away) your first thought* on hearing that idea is 'why send them into space - surely it'd cost less to build more on the ground? Well... yes. But looking at this idea gives us a chance to look at some other cool space technologies that are in development too. And, when you examine it closely, there are some advantages to putting solar panels in space: The sunlight is simply stronger up there - Earth's atmosphere cuts out a quarter to a half of the Sun's intensity. In space all of it could be collected. Not a huge advantage admittedly (the extra energy doesn't offset the cost of getting the satellite up there) but it's worth mentioningThere's no nighttime in space, so the power can be generated non-stop.. that overcomes one of the huge inherent problems with solar power on the ground - sunset! Ground based systems can store power in batteries overnight, but that comes with a bunch of its own problems. Being in space gets ...

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