Solar scientists are shooting for the moon to have our homes powered by energy from the stars. Solar panels generate electricity here on Earth using energy from the Sun. What if the whole process took place in outer space? In a new development in solar panel technology, scientists are exploring the idea of sending solar panels to space, where they would harness power and transmit it down to earth. It sounds like something from a science fiction novel but it just might work.
The future of solar energy
California high schooler Lewis Weber published his thoughts on this potential solution to the energy crisis in New Space journal. Self-replicating solar panels would be launched into space. Once reaching the Moon, the panels would build copies of themselves and enter Earth’s orbit. As they floated around the planet, the solar panels would collect energy from the Sun and transmit it down to Earth.
The idea of harnessing energy from outer space is not a new one. Scientists have been looking into options since the 1970s but only recently has it seemed possible. With advancements in technology and an increasing focus on reducing pollution on Earth, space-based solar power seems more realistic than ever.
Why solar panels in space are better
Launching solar panels into space would save space here on land. Typically, solar panel systems are installed on large areas of land or on the roof of homes and businesses. Putting them in outer space would free up quite a bit of land. Another benefit of solar panel systems floating around our solar system is that the sun is always shining. On Earth, solar panels don’t generate electricity at night when the sun isn’t shining. If they were in orbit, solar panels would always be able to collect power from the sun. Not only would the sun always be shining, but it would also be significantly brighter. Sunlight travels through the atmosphere to reach panels here on Earth, which reduces its effectiveness. Besides constant sunlight, there would be no inclement weather.
What could go wrong?
When people think about giant solar panel structures in space, they worry about the potential risks. Could it be weaponized? No. The solar panel system would not be able to turn into a weapon. Would it block sunlight from hitting Earth? No, again. The sun’s rays would reach around the solar panels and continue to provide light and warmth for Earth like normal. Plus, the solar power could be sent all over the world to remote locations that currently don’t have access to a reliable power source.
An out-of-this-world idea like this one takes a lot of planning and a lot of research. In addition to the time, it would be a costly transition to get enough solar panel systems in space to make a difference. While we’re not ready to launch solar panels into orbit yet, the potential is there. Teams of scientists and environmental enthusiasts are dedicating to pursuing innovative solar solutions. Like many of us, these men and women are shooting for the stars and hoping to land solar panels on the moon.