Solar Powered Star Wars

May the 4th be with you!

Okay, we know this line has been used again and again but to honor this year’s May the 4th, we couldn’t help but write about what big fans we are of Star Wars. After all, Star Wars is a fan of solar energy, which makes the franchise a fan of us – right?

What do I mean Star Wars is a fan of solar energy? Even The Empire and First Order use solar energy to power their ships. As they try to take control of the Galaxy, annihilating the rebels who oppose them, they are still conscious energy consumers!

How does it work?

Solar energy is captured in purified silicon cells that make up a ‘module’. These cells collect the light and energy from the sun and convert it into electricity using a process called the photovoltaic effect. Several of these modules are put together to form what’s called: ‘an array’ or a ‘solar array’.

TIE Fighters

TIE fighter ships and their variations including TIE bombers and even Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced One – use solar modules on the sides of their ships. The TIE fighters are powered by the electricity generated by these solar modules (verified by Star Wars cannon). TIE Fighter

Feasibility:

As long as the ships are near a sun long enough to harness and store energy, then absolutely they could power the TIE fighters. In fact, they are likely saving a lot of money or bartering items for the longevity and power provided by the solar PV systems. It’s actually a shame they don’t use more of them. The Death Star has a lot of outside space which could be occupied by solar PV modules to provide more energy cost savings. To be fair, that ship also receives a lot of damage, and we haven’t seen testing results for the quadanium steel armor that protects the panels. Although, we can confirm that a solar module can stand the hit of 80 mph hail without worry.

Need more concrete evidence? While we may not be sending military spaceships into war, we do have a number of solar modules in space. Solar energy is actually described as “The best source of energy for spacecraft” by NASA, which is why it is used to power not only satellites, but the International Space Station.

Solar Sailer

This starship yacht, used by Count Dooku to escape at the end of Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones also uses solar PV technology. George Lucas reports in the director’s commentary on the DVD that it uses plasma in its solar powered ‘sail’.

Dooku's solar sailer

Feasibility:

Solar Sailing is actually a real concept, although, it has not yet been proven viable. NASA has conducted solar sail tests on the ground and in orbit, but has never been flight tested. Maybe one day we will see the solar sail again?

Solar Future

While solar energy powers some of the ships in Star Wars, we hope to see it further adopted. For example, solar PV on the Planets with at least one sun. Maybe it could even save the rebels money on powering their spacecraft’s. Sun knows it would be a safer alternative to rhydonium!

 

Why not power your spacecraft with solar? 
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