Space is a long way away and unfortunately there is not always a Four Seasons Solar in the neighbourhood to come check up on your panels (maybe one day) and so as you can imagine the cell selection process is a lot lengthier and the cells chosen would have to be some of the best in the world.
We will be covering:
– So what sort of technology is used for solar energy in space?
– How does it differ to the technology we know?
– Is it available to consumers not planning on travelling to space any time soon?
NASA is commonly known as the pioneer of space travel and so we will be discussing their preferred technology.
All the solar panels we see on a daily basis are of a crystalline silicon make up with their variations being poly, mono, and multi the best of these cells will only convert around 20% of the light that hits their surface. In space multi-junction gallium arsenide based cells are typically favoured because they can convert up to 46% of the light that hits their surface.
Space expeditions often last many years and something to account for is cell degradation (loss of efficiency) a problem here on earth and an even bigger problem in space. Radiation is a major cause of cell damage because when spacecraft venture outside of the protective zone of the magnetosphere solar events can cause high levels of radiation. Gallium arsenide is much more resistant to these damages than silicon.
So they are hardier and can produce a lot more energy, why not put them in your roof? Well you could, there are supply options available as always it just comes down to dollars and cents or in this case thousands and hundreds. The cost for this technology is between $50 and $100 per watt, that means that if we set the average cost at $75 per watt and work out the cost for 5Kw’s worth of these cells you would be looking at $375000, just for panels..