21 Mar '12, 3pm

Space-Based Solar Power

Space-Based Solar Power

Let’s do our own quick analysis. A standard rooftop panel delivers about 10 W per kilogram of mass (slightly better than this, but I will stick to round numbers). Let’s say a light-weighted version for space achieves an impressive factor-of-100 improvement: same power for 1% the mass. This gives 1 kW/kg. I might be grossly over-optimistic in this estimate, but we’ll see where it takes us. Ignoring other infrastructure overhead (wiring, propulsion systems, structural support, microwave transmission antenna, communications, etc.), we end up with a launch cost of $40 per delivered Watt, accounting for 50% delivery efficiency—and this is just the launch cost. I’ll bet the space-qualified ultralight PV panels are not as cheap as the knock-about panels we put on our roofs for $2/W. So maybe the cost of the space hardware, launch of all systems, and build-out of expansive ground ...

Full article: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/9046

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