24 January 2010

Russia and Space Solar Power

From: Science & Technology Overview Russia Dec '09
Science&Technology Unit, Embassy of Switzerland in Moscow


Time To Build Space Solar Power Plants
The Russian science news agency Informnauka claims that more and more attention is drawn by scientists in Russia to the use of solar energy including the creation of space solar power plants. The researchers at the Lavochkin Scientific Production Association Federal State Unitary Enterprise suggest a new principle for building such power plants.  The researchers propose to give up the idea of building extremely large constructions and to place the solar accumulators and transmitting antennas on a system of autonomous satellites controlled via a piloting signal from the Earth.  They suppose to use the short-wave range of microwave frequency up to millimetric radio waves for the antenna, which will provide an opportunity to form narrow beams in the outer space with the minimal size of generators and amplifiers. Small generators will allow to reduce the size of receiving antennas by a factor of ten.  Interestingly, the researchers plan to place them on captive balloons at a height of 4.000 km. Such location will ensure that the molecular oxygen will not absorb the millimetric radio waves.  Moreover, a captive balloon can be put anywhere in any region.  The beams of individual satellite antennas should converge at the spot of the receiving antenna location. Each autonomous satellite will present a single element of a large antenna field comprised of a fleet of such spacecrafts. To deploy this project, a rather large photoemitting panel which transforms solar radiation directly into microwave energy is required. Capabilities of modern space-rocket hardware make it possible to build spacecrafts equipped with the panels up to 500 ΠΌ2 in size in the nearest term. Today, the photoconverter efficiency reaches 60 per cent. Perhaps, by the time the experimental design works to build space solar power plants commence such converters will be produced industrially.  It will take quite a lot of effort. The researchers will have to create a semiconductor structure capable not only of transforming solar energy but also radiating it in the microwave range at the same time. A control system to operate the automatic spacecrafts should be developed as it will allow to form an integrated antenna field of single satellites. The experts believe that in order to address the issues of a future energy crisis and to keep up with the developed countries, Russia must begin the research today.
Sources:
RUSSIAN SCIENCE NEWS, PARK-MEDIA, 29.12.2009, www.informnauka.ru, article on the basis of a publication in
Russia Electronic Scientific Magazine by V. K. Sysoev, G. M. Polishchuk, K. M. Pichkhadze “The Solar Space Power
Plant: The Choice Of Solution.” , http://zhurnal.ape.relarn.ru/articles/2009/050.pdf
Contact for further information: Valentin Sysoev, Doctor of Technics, assistant director of the Federal State
Unitary Enterprise of Lavochkin Scientific Production Association, Khimki; sysoev@laspace.ru

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are plans to open source the development of space solar power nowadays, using the internet and cloud computing to put engineering software into the cloud and operate them through web-browsers, much like a content management system operates nowadays, only using the software to actually design the equipment we will need. This idea was submitted to Google's Project 10 to the 100 competition in 2008.