Scientists to harness solar energy in space
London, May 17 (IANS) Solar power from space could be a valuable source of renewable energy, thanks to an innovative research.
Researchers at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, have already tested equipment that would provide a platform for solar panels to collect the energy and allow it to be transferred back to earth through microwaves or lasers.
This unique development would provide a reliable source of power and allow valuable energy to be sent to remote areas in the world, providing power to disaster zones or outlying areas that are difficult to reach by traditional means.
"Space provides a fantastic source for collecting solar power and we have the advantage of being able to gather it regardless of the time of the day or indeed the weather conditions," said Massimiliano Vasile, mechanical and aerospace engineer at Strathclyde, who is leading the research, according to a university statement.
"In areas like the Sahara desert where quality solar power can be captured, it becomes very difficult to transport this energy to areas where it can be used. However, our research is focusing on how we can remove this obstacle and use space-based solar power to target difficult to reach areas," Vasile said.
"By using either microwaves or lasers we would be able to beam the energy back down to earth, directly to specific areas. This would provide a reliable, quality source of energy and would remove the need for storing energy coming from renewable sources on ground as it would provide a constant delivery of solar energy," said Vasile.
"Initially, smaller satellites will be able to generate enough energy for a small village but we have the aim, and indeed the technology available, to one day put a large enough structure in space that could gather energy that would be capable of powering a large city," Vasile said.
A team of from Strathclyde last month developed an innovative 'space web' experiment which was carried on a rocket from the Arctic Circle to the edge of space.
The experiment, known as Suaineadh - or 'twisting' in Scots Gaelic - was an important step forward in space construction design and demonstrated that larger structures could be built on top of a light-weight spinning web, paving the way for the next stage in the solar power project.
Vasile added: "The success of Suaineadh allows us to move forward with the next stage of our project which involves looking at the reflectors needed to collect the solar power."
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