Optimal Multi-Site Selection for a PV-based Lunar Settlement Based on A Novel Method to Estimate Sun Illumination Profiles

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Abstract

Recently, space organizations have considered the Moon to host lunar bases. Such bases require power and energy to function. However, the efficient and safe use of the energy resources on the Moon is a huge challenge. Space photovoltaic (PV) power systems are appealing technologies due to their maturity and high solar energy availability at some locations on the Moon. The effectiveness of these PV systems depends on their selenographic location, which might necessitate the deployment of energy storage technologies to cover the base’s energy demand. Some analysts have proposed the installation of PV modules on kilometers-tall towers near the lunar poles to harvest more solar energy and limit the need for energy storage systems (ESSs). Alternatively, this paper proposes to harvest the energy from multiple sites in the lunar South Pole region using a novel technique to compute the Sun illumination profile and the LOLA topographic databases to compute the terrain elevations. The proposed algorithm seeks the most optimal configuration of sites and tower heights to minimize the longest night period and total distance between the sites. This study assesses groups of 1 to 6 sites assuming the use of towers having heights of 10, 100, and 500 [m]. The time horizon for the analysis is one Axial Precession Cycle, which is approximately 18.6 years. According to the results, a system of two sites with a separation of 42.05 [km] and towers of 500 [m] height has a maximum darkness period of only 3 [h] while another solution proposes a system of three sites with towers of 10 [m] that removes the need of EES (solar eclipse periods by the Earth are not considered). The proposed technique is suitable for engineering applications, such as base planning and operation management.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Volume71
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)2059-2074
Number of pages16
ISSN0273-1177
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023

Keywords

  • DEM
  • LOLA
  • Moon
  • Optimal allocation
  • Space microgrid
  • Time-series illumination profile

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