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Solar Farms in Space Are Possible According to the University of Surrey

Published on: 28 Oct, 2023
Updated on: 29 Oct, 2023

The University of Surrey, along with the University of Swansea, have announced it’s “viable to produce low-cost, lightweight solar panels that can generate energy in space”.

The universities say the first study of its kind followed a satellite over six years, observing how the panels generated power and weathered solar radiation over 30,000 orbits.

An image of a CubeSat made at the University of Surrey.

Professor Craig Underwood, Emeritus Professor of Spacecraft Engineering at the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey, said: “We are very pleased that a mission designed to last one year is still working after six.

“These detailed data show the panels have resisted radiation and their thin-film structure has not deteriorated in the harsh thermal and vacuum conditions of space.

“This ultra-low mass solar cell technology could lead to large, low-cost solar power stations deployed in space, bringing clean energy back to Earth – and now we have the first evidence that the technology works reliably in orbit.”

Researchers from the University of Swansea’s Centre for Solar Energy Research developed new solar cells from cadmium telluride. The panels cover a larger area, are more lightweight, and provide far greater power than current technology – as well as being relatively cheap to manufacture.

Scientists from the University of Surrey designed instruments that measured their performance in orbit. The satellite itself was designed and built at the Surrey Space Centre in partnership with a team of trainee engineers from the Algerian Space Agency (ASAL).

Evidently, although the cells’ power output became less efficient over time, researchers say they believe their findings prove that solar power satellites work and could be commercially viable.

The study has been published in the journal Acta Astronautica.

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Responses to Solar Farms in Space Are Possible According to the University of Surrey

  1. Roshan Bailey Reply

    October 30, 2023 at 11:13 pm

    That’s good – Surrey University can drop their plans to blight the slopes of the Hogs Back then.

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