Energy in Space

Published: 21 November 2018

The Energy in Space Experiment calls on students to test new power sources that could work well in a microgravity environment. The subject of the experiment from the energy perspective can be a study on one of the following fields:

1.     Solar Power-Based Space Energy

2.     Solar Satellite

3.     Space-Based Smart Grids

Before you submit the Experiment Proposal Form for the Competition, please ensure that you select one of the following recommended tentative areas of research:

a) Space-Based Smart Grids

The development of the so called “Smart Grid” has as many definitions as individuals working in the area. Based on the technology or technologies that are of interest, be it high speed communication, renewable generation, smart meters, energy storage, advanced sensors, etc. they can become the individual defining characteristic of the “Smart Grid”. In reality the smart grid encompasses all of these items and quite a bit more. This area attempts to look at what the needs are for the grid of the future, such as the:

1.            Issues of increased power flow capability

2.            Use of renewable energy

3.            Increased security and efficiency, and

4.            Common power and data standards

It also shows how many of these issues are common with the needs of Space for future exploration programs. A common theme to address both terrestrial and space exploration issues is to develop micro-grids that advertise the ability to enable the “load leveling of large power generation facilities”. However, for micro-grids to realize their promise there needs to a holistic systems approach to their development and integration. The overall system integration issues are presented along with potential solution methodologies.


b) Solar Power-Based Space Energy

Space Solar Power is an area to facilitate and highlight developing SSP technologies, to determine and advance the state of the art, to discuss supporting and related technical issues in this area, and take necessary action to improve implementations. It investigates the applications in the following power transfers:

1.            Space‐to‐Ground

2.            Space‐to‐Space

3.            Ground‐to‐Space

4.            Ground‐to‐Ground

Other areas of research could be in:

5.            Wireless Power Transfer (WPT/Microwave Power Transfer (MPT) Technologies

6.            Photovoltaics power planning

7.            Fossil Energy Resources and Green Energy alternatives

8.            Sustainability of Solar Power on space and its environmental Impact

9.            Power Harvesting Unit Design

10.         Space-based smart grids


c) Solar Satellite

Large photovoltaic arrays constantly convert sunlight into electricity and use microwaves to beam that energy back to earth-bound receiving stations. A single one of these satellites would send enough energy to power a major portion on Earth. Since one would need a large surface to collect all of this energy, the best locations for receiving stations are dry areas such as the Deserts.