Saving the World – Space Solar Power

emily-2013 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Do you remember when gas used to be under $2? When it was closer to 1?

The trend is clear to me: prices for products using oil will continue to increase. Limited resources, like petroleum, can only increase in cost, not to mention all the other bad environmental stuff.

Design showing Low-Earth Orbits satellites each to carry 42 acres of solar panels

Design showing Low-Earth Orbits satellites each to carry 42 acres of solar panels

Renewable energy is a big buzz word right now, and it’s an extremely exciting field to get into. Here in the USC Astronautics department, our senior project is this: Design a Space-Based Solar Power System.

And we have!

Cost and Revenue Projections for Our Design

Cost and Revenue Projections for Our Design

Takeaway numbers:

  • Power Provided to Earth: 1 GW. This could provide 30% of the US Energy or 5% of the World’s Power.
  • What is the solution135 satellites and 600,000 acres of receiver space on earth
  • How much will it cost: $21 billion. Which is about how much is costs for the US to prevent marijuana use (fun fact).
  • How long to get a profit: Between 15-20 years depending on whether we only send power to rich countries.

Another fun fact, some of the countries who pay the most for electricity are US (obvi), Hong Kong, Jordan, Australia, and Brazil. Where we strategically put ground stations……

Location of ground stations to receive electricity

Location of ground stations to receive electricity

I’ve been mainly in charge of the solar harvesting technology and the money!!

Thin Film Solar Cells are an interesting new technology that will be up to 10x lighter than commercial spacecraft (1kg/m^2), much easier to store, MUCH cheaper (low as $0.5/W projected). This make it possible for us to send up acres of panels easily and then replace them cheaply as they degrade from micrometeorids.

Let me know if you have any questions about this subject, it will pretty much be my life this weekend, trying to finish up our 100 page report!!

 

Comments 1

Want to learn more? Here's the best place to ask: