Russia Working on SSP: Claim ~50% Efficient Solar Cells
Posted by Coyote on August 5, 2007
The Russian News and Information Agency released a story by Yuri Zaitsev (click the link above to read). Therein he nicely summarizes the need for space solar power and the evolution of photovoltaic cells that collect and convert solar power into electricity. What is most interesting is that he asserts that by using pure quartzites (citing, “The largest deposits of very pure quartzites are found in Russia, which had vast reserves of them”) that:
Recently the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, near Moscow, developed a photo cell with an efficiency of almost 50%. Scientists describe their product as a “star battery.” It is an example of how nanotechnology can improve the workings of well-known processes.
Keep in mind that every improvement in efficiency along the collection-delivery pathway improves the business case.
This begs two questions:
1. What are the technical implications of ~50% efficient cells?
2. Does this signal cooperation or competition with the Russians?
I was a little concerned that Zaitsev was a Kool-Aide drinker who would raise the hackles of our space cynics–who do us a great service by keeping us realistic and focused on the business case–but he ended with this:
To deliver parts to working orbits, assemble them there and later perform maintenance on the plants, assembly, aerospace and inter-orbit transports systems will have to be developed, which is just as challenging as building the plants themselves. But whatever way you look at them, solar plants in space are a better and less costly option for energy problems on the Earth than flying to the Moon to fetch helium-3 for fusion reactors.
I surmise that he sees the goal quite clearly (and optimistically), but he realizes that there are numerous infrastructure challenges that must be resolved first.
If I had a Space-Based Solar Power teeshirt, I’d send him one.