The world’s biggest solar tech producer plans to harness the Sun’s energy and project it back to Earth. How is that even possible? Well, LONGİ Green Energy Technology will send giant solar panels to space to achieve that end. Putting the solar panel in the orbit and in the path of the Sun’s rays will help remove their greatest flaw: their inability to perform in low-light conditions. However, bringing that energy back to Earth is another ball game altogether.
The science and other stuff to know
LONGİ is an established player in providing clean energy and has been key to China becoming the top supplier of solar tech across the world. It recently set up a laboratory, LONGi Green Energy Future Energy Space Laboratory, which will focus on research and development of technology to harness solar energy in space. Moreover, the lab will focus on testing the technology’s efficiency in the space environment and applying improvements to make solar technology beneficial for the world.
Researchers at Xidian University have already tested a system that successfully transmits solar power from outer space into electrical energy. The system works by capturing sunlight, converting it into microwave beams, and transmitting it to a receiver station on the ground that converts it into electricity.
The spatial solar panels would work on the same principles: capture sunlight around the clock and transmit it to Earth-based stations for conversion into usable energy.
With the cost of conventional fuel rising by the day and alarm bells ringing over the worsening climate breakdown, initiatives that optimize the utilization of renewable sources of energy are a positive development.
The Sun is an endless source of energy for the Earth, and maximizing the usage of this source could offer low-cost benefits to various industries. Given the effects of climate change on agriculture worldwide, these offsite power stations could become a source for the targeted provision of solar energy where it is most needed. For example, they could help boost agricultural output. Moreover, they could attain other specific goals, like easing waterlogging.
While it is yet not clear when Longi actually plans to launch these prototype solar panels, the idea is certainly a promising one.
Wu Zhijian, president of the China National Space Administration-backed China Space Foundation, said [translated] LONGi’s laboratory could lead to enhanced collaboration with China’s space program and toward off-planet power stations. “Tracing the origin, the earliest applications of photovoltaics [conversion of sunlight into electrical energy] were in the aerospace field. The development of photovoltaics and aerospace are inseparable. Photovoltaic has always been the main producer of space power. I am very happy to see LONGi taking the first step in aerospace and connecting [it with] the future space power station, aerospace commercialization, and other fields.”