Uninterrupted photovoltaic power for lunar colonization without storage

by Vincent Godstime

An Israeli scientist has proposed a way to make solar power on the moon more reliable. The idea is to install solar panels all around the moon, near one of its poles. This should reduce the need for energy storage and there would be no shading problems between different arrays like this.

There is a scientist in Israel who recently published findings on how to provide uninterrupted power to oxygen factories on the moon without using storage. His research is published in an article called “Uninterrupted photovoltaic power for lunar colonization without the need for storage” which was published in Renewable Energy.

The study found that to continuously power oxygen factories, you need 10 MW of solar capacity. The researcher explained that they could install PV arrays around a 360-degree latitudinal ring close to one of the moon’s poles. They would be able to use long transmission lines that would connect with the oxygen plants. There would be no shading between PV arrays, and both static vertical PPV arrays and arrays mounted on single-axis vertical trackers could be viable mounting structures.

This new technology exploits the following unique features of the moon: a lack of an atmosphere, the moon’s zero-tilt axis with respect to plane, and favorable lunar conditions for low-mass, inexpensive transmission lines. The advantage is that these low-mass cables may connect from as much as 384,000 kilometers (238,076 miles). That’s nearly 12 times farther than current terrestrial fiberoptic connections that are limited to about 60 kilometers (37.3 miles) in this distance class.

The main challenge of setting up colonies on the moon is to create a sustainable energy source. Nuclear energy is an option, but there are new findings that suggest solar power without storage could be the most efficient solution.

“Researchers have proposed new launches and installations of the stations, with specific mass of up to 100 times less than those proposed so far,” said the researcher. “This improves installation cost by more than a factor of 10. Moreover, this solution avoids the fission process, thereby avoiding some environmentally unwanted byproducts that represent about 7% of the total weight.” NASA is now considering the solar solution over nuclear energy to power its lunar colonies.

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