Green technology news: Solar energy could be going to the MoonJanuary 15, 2014
New solar energy system developed by research collaboration
A new solar energy system has been devised by the Polytechnic University of Catalonia through collaborations with several other international organizations. While the development of a new photovoltaic system may not be something revolutionary, this particular system is designed to be used on the Moon. It is designed as a concentrated solar and heat system that is meant to produce electricity for a variety of purposes. One of the primary purposes of this new system could be to provide heat and electrical power for lunar bases.
System could provide electricity and heat to a lunar establishment
The system is comprised of an array of Fresnel reflectors, which are meant to amplify sunlight. The system also utilizes modified lunar soil, known as regolith, in order to capture sunlight. Solar radiation is converted into electrical power using photovoltaic modules while excess sunlight is concentrated to provide heat. This heat can be used for living-spaces or used to power a Stirling engine, thereby producing more electrical power.
Harsh conditions make lunar research difficult
Researchers note that lunar nights can last up to 14 days and temperatures can plummet to lower than negative-150 degrees Celsius. Not only do these conditions make it difficult to establish long-standing bases on the Moon, they also complicate vehicle movement. Currently, unmanned vehicles are the most viable way to navigate the lunar surface and collect valuable information. In the future, however, the Moon may become a valuable resource in and of itself, thus requiring some kind of human presence there. A solar energy system could potentially make this possible.
The Moon is becoming a target for solar energy ambitions
Solar power has become quite popular, but bringing solar technologies to the Moon has only very recently begun to attract attention. In 2013, a Japanese firm announced ambitious plans to build a ring of solar panels around the Moon called the “Luna Ring,” claiming that this would be able to accommodate the energy needs of the entire planet. Such an endeavor, however, would be years in the making and would have to overcome several political hurdles concerning the Moon itself and the concept of ownership in space.