Space Based Solar Power
Space based solar power is when the sun’s energy is collected from a device in outer space.
The energy collected is then either used to power the same device, a space station, or transported back to earth.
There currently are satellites that use solar power for their own energy usage, but we are yet to see any solar power systems in outer space that actually transport electricity back to earth.
Advantages of Space Based Solar Power
The sun’s energy does not have to travel through the earth’s atmosphere to reach the receptors of the solar panel. This means that a much greater portion of the sun’s light or heat can be collected before much of it is reflected back into space from the earth’s atmosphere.
A space based solar system could potentially receive 24 hours of sun exposure while in orbit around the earth. This is a great advantage because earth based solar power systems only receive sun exposure during daylight hours.
There are no earth based weather patterns and cloud cover to interfere with solar collection. Also, no potential disturbance from plant or animal life.
Disadvantages of Space Based Solar Power
These systems would be very expensive, requiring many space shuttle launches to transport all the materials needed into space.
Outer space provides many potential hazards to the solar panels: space debris, space dust, asteroids, and extreme solar radiation. All of these could be very harmful the to integrity of the system.
Transporting the energy back to earth could be hazardous, and there would be large amounts of wasted energy during the transporting process.