How Does China's Space Power Station Generate Power?

How Does China's Space Power Station Generate Power?


Have you heard of China’s space power station plan? In June 2021, the world’s first space solar power station experiment base will officially start in Chongqing, China, with a total investment of 2.6 billion and an area of 133333 square meters, equivalent to the area of ​​a football field. One day, we will build a solar power station at an altitude of 36,000 kilometers above the ground, which will completely solve the problem of energy. This power station will always provide us with steady electricity in China.
 
Why is it so complicated? Wouldn't it be nice to build more solar power stations in the desert and use solar pv panels? Solar power is used both in orbit and on the ground, but their efficiency is greatly different. The power generation environment in space is ideal, without the weakening of the atmosphere, and there is no rainy and cloudy day, so the maximum power generation can reach 14 kilowatts. It is only 0.4 kilowatts on the ground, which is 35 times worse, and more importantly, because of the angled height, the power station will not be obscured by the rotation of the earth; it can generate electricity 24 hours a day. According to calculations, the space power station only needs panels of two square kilometers, and its annual power generation capacity can be comparable to that of the Three Gorges Power Station. This power station can provide us with continuous power support no matter the day or night.
 
How to build the space power station? The current plan is to launch materials in batches, assemble them in space, and then use 3D printing technology to fill in the details. Power transmission is through microwave transmission, which converts the electrical energy in space into radio frequency microwaves, and then lets it transmit at a specific frequency. Passing through the atmosphere to the ground receiving station, the receiving station then converts microwaves into electrical energy and incorporates it into the national grid. This sounds incredible, but in fact, the prototype of the technology is already there. The orbiter is equipped with a photovoltaic radio frequency antenna module, which has completed the key step of converting electrical energy into radio frequency microwaves. Japanese researchers have also successfully realized the experiment of microwave power transmission. China also used microwave wireless transmission prototypes this year to transfer the received microwaves and successfully convert them into power frequency alternating current, so as long as all links are connected, a breakthrough from zero to one can be achieved. In the future, with the deepening of microwave transmission technology, various civilian scenarios will also appear. In theory, this space power station could also charge our nation's cars, planes, ships and even orbiting satellites.
 
There is a problem concerning the safety of space power stations. Today, there are more than 128 million pieces of debris with a diameter of more than one millimeter in the Earth's orbit. The power of these ultra-high-speed flying junk fragments is not lower than that of artillery shells. Once it hits a space power station, the damage will be devastating. No country has any particularly good way to deal with space junk. China launched the Shijian 21 satellite in October this year to verify the space debris deceleration technology. Simply put, the debris in outer space is decelerated by technical means. When the speed is reduced, they will fall within the gravitational range of the earth, and thus enter the atmosphere until they burn up. Another magic way is the large robotic arm. In 2016, China used the Aolong NO.1 satellite to verify the possibility of the robotic arm accurately grabbing abandoned satellites and other large debris in space. The space power station is a very large and systematic project, involving many technical fields and high cost. In China, the realization of this project is not a question of whether it is feasible or not, but a question of when.