On Science Daily an article of Solar cells with an efficiency over 40 percent, i.e. more than 40 percent of the sunlight received is converted into electricity. This development is important, both for space settlements and terrestrial energy supply.
We found on The Independent the following article Japanese engineers plan to turn the Moon into a giant solar panel station. It’s clear that Japan is busy to look for alternative energy resources after the Fukushima disaster of 2011. This plan is a subset of so-called space based solar power or SBSP. The idea is to install solar panels on the Moon which will turn electricity into microwaves which are subsequently transmitted to Earth, and converted back to electricity.
We of Republic of Lagrangia aren’t convinced of the desirability and feasibility of SBSP for terrestrial purposes. We have discussed this topic earlier on this blog. And we have also written about Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion as a solution of Japan’s energy crisis. As an alternative we have discussed Solar Energy Islands as a method of producing energy at sea.
The whole idea of space colonization is founded on two facts: the abundance of extraterrestrial mineral resources and the availability of huge amounts of cheap Solar energy. There are basically two approaches to harvest Solar energy for space settlements: photovoltaic cells and solar-thermal power plants. The latter uses the heat from our Sun to heat a fluid, which is used to drive a turbine.
A challenge for photovoltaic arrays, is their efficiency. But there is exciting news from this field, according to The Science Daily, scientists from North Carolina State University have designed a method to increase solar array efficiency up to 45%. This would mean less Solar cells are needed to produce energy.