The renewable energy field is undergoing an incredible boost, and certainly one of the major players in the sector China, not only in terms of production, but also in terms of adoption. Now a Chinese company, LONGiis preparing to start a new experimentation to bring the field of photovoltaic to a new level.
In short, LONGi wants launching photovoltaic panels into spacecreating a kind of orbiting generating stationthen send back to Earth in some form the energy generated. The project is called LONGi Green Energy Future Energy Space Laboratory, and the initial study phase is now starting.
The project sees the collaboration of the Chinese state, through the China Space Foundationin addition to the contribution of Chinese scientists of the Xidian University in Shaanxi province. The photovoltaic panels in orbit would have excellent production rates, as is already the case on every space structure powered by photovoltaics, and then convert energy into microwavesto be fired on Earth in the direction of a receiving station, like the one seen in the photo above. On the ground, the conversion into electricity would then proceed.
The members of the university team have created a prototype to scale of how everything should work, with only one problem: current technology allows us to transmit energy in the air for only 55 meters. The hope obviously that the research can bring new developments, but in the meantime LONGi tests the materials by replicating the conditions of orbital space in the laboratory.
The technical difficulties are not only the only ones to overcome, there are also the economic ones. A launch with a SpaceX carrier currently costs around 35-45 million dollars, to carry a low-weight payload into orbit, and Chinese launchers don’t have much different costs. Is it really worth trying to produce energy in orbit, with the losses due to transport conversions, with these construction costs? It is certain that space research will bring innovations to the common world, as has always been the case, but a direct application of this study appears complicated.