Why does Babylon 5 have a fusion reactor and solar panels? The basic premise of fusion is nearly unlimited power given a sustainable reaction. We know from season 3 that if the fusion reactor was damaged by a terrorist bomb it would wipe out the entire station. Therefore the fusion reactor is presumably of a sufficient size to generate power for the station. It follows then that the solar panel looking things are superfluous if they are indeed solar panels.
Those gigantic panels aren't solar panels, they're there to help cool the station. Showrunner JMS refers to them as 'heat dissipators' or 'heat radiators'.
...those solar panels are wayyyyyyy to small for a station of that size...
They're not solar panels, they're heat dissipators.
...Are these solar panels or heat radiators for the fission reactor?
Heat radiators for the station.
...Then the design makes even less sense to divert the heat back towards the population/critical core of the station, and then up against it as well. They should be right off the reactor going as far away from the station, no?
No, it's to remove the heat from the populated areas where you have all these people generating heat, as well as the life support and other mechanisms. The reactor is a fusion reactor and has its own separate systems.
...Living quarters have climate control. Reactors generate the heat.
And the mechanisms to create that climate control put out a lot of heat, as do the people, as do the massive systems that turn the entire station to create gravity.
According to a post by JMS, the station did originally have a system of solar collectors, but these were removed from the final design
As for the B5 photo on the magazine...what you're looking at is a shot of the docking bay in the front of B5 Phase Two. The independent sections you see in a sort of grid behind it are the rotating sections that create gravity. At the sort of right-bottom corner, that corner of blue you see is part of a system of solar panels which have subsequently been dropped from the design. The ship (orange, which is actually sort of brown-silver in the video demo) in front is just sorta there, taken from another shot (which kinda throws off the perspective a little).
According to this technical diagram of the station, those are radiators, not solar panels:
Space stations need radiator panels such as those in order to reject excess heat out into space. The ISS has them too: they're the white panels, contrasting with the dark blue of the solar panels.