Solar energy generation keeps on becoming cheaper and more efficient, but some basic limitations will always apply: solar panels can only generate power during the daytime, and much of the sunlight is absorbed by the atmosphere as it shines downward. So ESA is working on the concept of collecting solar power up in orbit, where sunlight is up to 11 times more intense than across European territory, then beaming it down to the ground for use.
As part of that effort, a new project looks into designing solar-power satellites, which would become the largest structures ever built in space. Frazer-Nash Consultancy will study the modular construction of solar-power satellites, to efficiently dissembling them as they come to their end-of-life for reuse or recycling.
Supported through the Discovery element of ESA’s Basic Activities, this project was initiated through ESA’s Open Space Innovation Platform, seeking out promising new ideas for space. Find out more about this and other recent OSIP activities here.