Keywords:Mars, Renewable Energy, Airborne Wind Energy, Kite Power, Microgrid, Solar Energy, Photovoltaics, Space Systems Engineering
Generating renewable energy on Mars is technologically challenging. Firstly, because, compared to Earth, key energy resources such as solar and wind are weak as a result of very low atmospheric pressure and low solar irradiation. Secondly, because of the harsh environmental conditions, the required high degree of automation, and the exceptional effort and cost involved in transporting material to the planet. Like on Earth, it is crucial to combine complementary resources for an effective renewable energy solution. In this work, we present the results of a design synthesis exercise, a 10 kW microgrid solution, based on a pumping kite power system and photovoltaic solar modules to power the construction and subsequent use of a Mars habitat. To buffer unavoidable energy fluctuations and balance seasonal and diurnal resource variations, the two energy systems are combined with a compressed gas storage system and lithium-sulphur batteries. The airborne wind energy solution was selected because of its low weight-to-wing-surface-area ratio, compact packing volume, and high capacity factor which enables it to endure strong dust storms in an airborne parking mode. The surface area of the membrane wing is 50 m2 and the mass of the entire system, including the kite control unit and ground station, is 290 kg. The performance of the microgrid was assessed by computational simulation using available resource data for a chosen deployment location on Mars. The projected costs of the system are €8.95 million, excluding transportation to Mars.