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New space solar power design

Posted by: Lourens - Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:18 pm
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New space solar power design 
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Space Station Commander
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Post New space solar power design   Posted on: Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:18 pm
Putting solar power in space seems like a good idea: no clouds, no haze, no night, so lots more power. The problem is that solar power plants are kind of heavy. Here's a new design for a space solar power plant that aims to overcome these issues. It's a flock (saving lots of structural weight) of mirrors concentrating sunlight onto a set of photovoltaic cells. The whole thing is built out of small components that are connected together into a huge structure using autonomous robots. Cool stuff!

(If you like picture's, there's a slide deck here. For the many resident geniuses here, here's the full 116 page PDF report. That should keep you from calling each other names far a while I'd hope.)

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Post Re: New space solar power design   Posted on: Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:15 pm
Meh. At the scales required to be commercially practical and worth the investment it will still be very large and thus expensive to lift to Earth orbit. I doubt this approach is that much more efficient that it becomes viable.

By the time this gets practical, either by the cost to lift to orbit is reduced or off-Earth manufacturing is established, then the per kwh mass/cost won't matter much. Such is the "Catch-22" problem we find ourselves. You can't build grandiose mega-structures like SBSP or beanstalks in space unless you have such mega-structures or the technology which supersedes and makes them obsolete...


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Post Re: New space solar power design   Posted on: Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:40 pm
Why do you think that cheap access to orbit and orbital manufacturing means the energy problem will have already been solved?


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Post Re: New space solar power design   Posted on: Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:44 pm
Because it is a requirement.


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Post Re: New space solar power design   Posted on: Wed Oct 09, 2013 3:21 pm
JamesG wrote:
Because it is a requirement.

I still don't get your line of thought.

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Post Re: New space solar power design   Posted on: Wed Oct 09, 2013 3:45 pm
It's an economic problem, not an engineering one.

Lifting mass to orbit has an energy cost, which translates into a financial cost. These are variable based on technological level (energy density). The better your technology the lower the cost.

The point at where the lift costs are low enough to make mega projects practicable is probably at the point of where you no longer need them. I.e. fusion power making SBSP a quaint notion and highly efficient spacecraft making a space elevator superfluous.


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Post Re: New space solar power design   Posted on: Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:01 pm
Lourens wrote:
Putting solar power in space seems like a good idea: no clouds, no haze, no night, so lots more power. The problem is that solar power plants are kind of heavy. Here's a new design for a space solar power plant that aims to overcome these issues. It's a flock (saving lots of structural weight) of mirrors concentrating sunlight onto a set of photovoltaic cells. The whole thing is built out of small components that are connected together into a huge structure using autonomous robots. Cool stuff!

(If you like picture's, there's a slide deck here. For the many resident geniuses here, here's the full 116 page PDF report. That should keep you from calling each other names far a while I'd hope.)

I hope it is possible.. We need to boost our solar projects efficiency for pollution free energy.


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