Image: Thirty percent efficient multi-junction solar cell

Apr 09, 2014
Credit: Azur Space Solar Power

Turning light into power, solar arrays are a must-have for the vast majority of satellites.

With sized according to the power needs of the mission, there might be thousands of individual crammed onto a typical satellite.

The design seen here is a thin version of the European 3G30 triple-junction gallium arsenide solar cell. Produced by Azur Space Solar Power, it is one of the most efficient in the world.

It was 60 years ago this month that the first practical solar (or 'photovoltaic' cell) was demonstrated at Bell Labs in New Jersey, USA. This 's very first practical use was in powering early satellites, and solar cells remain pivotal to the space industry to this day.

But photovoltaic electricity generation is also on the way to becoming a major terrestrial energy source, projected to supply close to 3% of global electricity demand by 2020.

This bright future will be the focus of the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, this September.

Thousands of experts will discuss the progress of photovoltaic technology across – as well as off – the planet.

Historically, the has helped to drive advances in photovoltaics. For instance, the gallium arsenide cells powering today's satellites are more than twice as efficient as those installed on domestic rooftops.

With such successes in mind, ESA has begun an initiative devoted to the synergies between space and energy technology called Space for Energy, with solar energy a major element.

Explore further: Scientists develop silicon cells capable of absorbing infrared radiation from the sun

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

The state of shale

Dec 19, 2014

University of Pittsburgh researchers have shared their findings from three studies related to shale gas in a recent special issue of the journal Energy Technology, edited by Götz Veser, the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of Che ...

Website shines light on renewable energy resources

Dec 18, 2014

A team from the University of Arizona and eight southwestern electric utility companies have built a pioneering web portal that provides insight into renewable energy sources and how they contribute to the ...

Better software cuts computer energy use

Dec 18, 2014

An EU research project is developing tools to help software engineers create energy-efficient code, which could reduce electricity consumption at data centres by up to 50% and improve battery life in smart ...

Cook farm waste into energy

Dec 17, 2014

It takes some cooking, but turning farm waste into biofuels is now possible and makes economic sense, according to preliminary research from the University of Guelph.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

hangman04
not rated yet Apr 10, 2014
:/ not much for an article.... just petty news report....

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.