PV panels have been used since they appeared as means of powering the orbiting satellites from the atmosphere in order for us to have all the great things that we have.
I myself, strongly believe that Nuclear Energy is more powerful than Solar Energy and honestly think it is better suited for great power demands. That disadvantages of this type of power are the facts that they must be kept under watch in constant times. Humans haven’t grown so advanced yet as to find a way to harness Nuclear Energy to such a degree that they no longer require to constantly cool the coils and replace the uranium/plutonium/radioactive-metal compound.
The reason mentioned above is exactly why Nuclear Energy isn’t the solution for powering the satellites. They can’t go up to them and change the reactant that often. Personally, I have my doubts about humans EVER being able to set foot into space. First of all, the energy emitted by the Sun is accompanied by radiation. Lethal doses of radiation, more exactly. No human can survive that dose of radiation. In order for an individual to survive that amount of rads, he would need to be covered by a layer of lead from all sides. A layer that is 50 meters thick. On the rare occasions on which the Sun is affected by a solar prominence, the radiation dished out by the Sun is amplified by a few thousand times. Not to mention a Solar Prominence is large enough to engulf planets way bigger than our own.
Apart from that, in a reality in which we no longer need to change the reactant of the satellites, what would happen if one happens to fall. In the best of cases, it would fall and destroy only the place on which it lands. Best case scenario, it’s as strong as 5 Tsar Bombs ( one Tsar Bomb is as strong as 50 Hiroshima / Nagasaki Warheads ). That would be the happy case. Worst case scenario, it would create the effect of nuclear fallout if it detonates in the atmosphere.
In case you do not know WHAT nuclear fallout is, it is the effect of radioactive substances remaining in the atmosphere, polluting it and corrupting it. Since the air itself is filled with radiation on substances that kill on sight, you can imagine the catastrophic effects it can have on every air-breathing creature on the area affected. Since it is most likely to sip into clouds and clouds are past around via winds, that area can pretty much cover all the corners of your good Earth.
Being a die-hard PC gamer myself, I have seen that effect with my own two eyes rendered quite well in a series of games called Fallout. The effects were catastrophic, but not entirely untrue.
That being said, one can now have a reference to use whenever one is in an argument on what is better to power a consumer in space.