LONGi Green Energy, the world’s largest solar company, is going to launch solar panels into space to test whether they can successfully work in orbit and transmit power back to Earth.
The Xi’an, China-based solar giant’s newly announced project is called the LONGi Green Energy Future Energy Space Laboratory. It aims to “promote the integrated development of aerospace technology and new energy.” The company is also going to test its products in similar environments on Earth in order to assess whether they’re suitable for space.
So what’s the point of launching solar panels into space? Unrestricted exposure to the sun while they’re in orbit.
Wu Zhijian, president of the China Space Foundation, a government-backed agency under the China National Space Administration, said [translated]:
The earliest applications of photovoltaics were in the aerospace field. The development of photovoltaics and aerospace are inseparable. Photovoltaics have always been the main producer of space power. I am very happy to see LONGi taking the first step in aerospace and connecting In the future space power station, aerospace commercialization, and other fields.
I also look forward to LONGi and China’s photovoltaic enterprises speeding up their pace and moving forward hand in hand with China Aerospace.
In June, Chinese scientists at Xidian University in Shaanxi province announced that they had successfully tested a full-system model (pictured above) that could wirelessly transmit solar power from space to Earth. Bloomberg summarized how it works:
[It] captures sunlight high above the ground and converts it into microwave beams. It then transmits through the air to a receiver station on the ground, where it can be converted back to electricity. While the model only sends the energy 55 meters through the air, the researchers hope the technology could one day be expanded to send power from orbiting solar panels to Earth.