In space, there is no automatic power supply and every difference in efficiency counts in determining both the mission length and its possibilities. The same technologies that will power drills on Mars and treadmills in low Earth orbit have been used to push energy technology forward here on Earth.
All three Dutch solar cars that have finished first in the World Solar Challenge, a 3010 km race across Australia for cars powered by solar energy, were powered and supported by space technology. Every year students from the Delft University of Technology and RotterdamUniversity bring together top of the line space-qualified solar cells and space-age plastics to form a truly spacey and energy-friendly car.
Formula Zero, a zero emissions race car, now also uses a concept with a long history in space-flight to power green racing. Hydrogen and Oxygen are brought together in an exothermic reaction to create water and energy, and the canisters that the hydrogen is stored in to power the race car were originally designed by Dutch scientists at TNO and APP for use in rocket propulsion.
All forms of energy generation have environmental effects, and the Netherlandsis leading the European project EnerGEO which aims to use satellite data and advanced climate modelling to determine the effects of energy use on the environment. The project will model all types of energy solutions from fossil fuels to windmills to solar cells to nuclear power in order to view various scenarios and determine what the environmental consequences will be.Space might even provide a more direct solution to energy problems in our future. The efficiency of solar power is much higher in space due to the lack of atmosphere, causing a concept to develop in which future satellites collect solar energy in space and then transmit that energy back to Earth. The wireless transfer of energy is modelled after the wireless signal transfer already used to receive data from current satellites. Space-based solar power has been a hot topic in space research for years and is now coming to a point of commercialization and potential fruition.