Solar Power Concentrators for Space Applications

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Joshua Pritchard
Kiri Simon
Cameron Dowd
Eashwar Joshi

Abstract

Space based solar power is an attractive solution to growing energy needs, overcoming the operational downtime and atmospheric losses inherent to terrestrial solar technologies. Ideal solar satellites include concentrator systems in order to produce a high specific power output, keeping mass low for economic launch. A meta analysis of photovoltaic concentrator research is presented to determine viability in space applications, considering contributions to cell heating, subcell current matching and efficiency of the InGaP/GaAs/Ge multi-junction cell. We find that the CaF2 Fresnel lens is an optimal choice with an efficiency increase of 4.9% at 17 suns. The large range of concentration ratio, low mass, compact design and minimal effect on spectral irradiance allow a wide space for optimisation in temperature control, whilst the current matching conditions under concentration can be regulated by appropriate tunnel junction width and bandgap.

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