Solar energy in space, which plays an important role in powering satellites, is now being considered for power generation on Earth as well.
A unique project using space solar power
The UK government has commissioned new research into the feasibility ofspace-based solar power systems (SBSPs) that will harness solar power in space. Taking the help of massive satellites to for the collection of solar energy, the idea is to recover the rays of the sun that do not reach the earth. Once captured, the energy will be converted to radio frequency. Ground receivers, directly connected to the electrical network, will allow these frequencies to be received in complete safety.
Led by Frazer-Nash Consultancy, this research should take into account the economic and engineering aspects that such a project would entail. Also, if it is possible to provide consumers with affordable energy and the technology and engineering that will be needed to bring it to life. One of the main concerns is whether the assembly of all these massive satellites in orbit can be done. Martin Soltau, Space Business Manager at Frazer-Nash, explains the ambitions of this project better than anyone:
“SBSP has the potential to make a significant contribution to energy production in the UK and offers many benefits if it can be made practical and affordable. Frazer-Nash is studying leading international solar energy satellite designs and we will develop the engineering plan to deploy an operational SBSP system by 2050. We are assembling a panel of experts, including leading SBSP experts and space and energy organizations, to get a range of industry perspectives.”
When fiction becomes reality
The idea of using energy directly from space was introduced by the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in 1941. Many countries have taken up the ingenious idea with the hope that one day it will become a reality. The project is becoming more and more credible. Today, solar panels are light, wireless power transmission technology is developing rapidly and the sharp drop in space launch costs linked to the emergence of private space companies suddenly seem to take this idea out of science fiction.
A small step for the UK, a big step for the Planet
The UK has made solid progress in its drive to be a 100% green economy by 2050. In addition to the SBSP, his majesty’s kingdom surprised the world by bringing forward the date for banning sales of gasoline and diesel cars to 2030, and hybrid cars to 2035. In 2019, for the first time, wind, solar and nuclear power generation surpassed the more polluting natural gas and coal. Carbon dioxide production in the UK has fallen by 40%, as reported by the World Resources Institute. That’s more than any other major industrialized country at the moment. Martin Soltau wants to make the SBSP part of this greener energy policy:
“We will compare SBSP to other forms of renewable energy, to see how it would contribute as part of a future mix of clean energy technologies. We have also partnered with Oxford Economics, which has significant experience in the space sector and will provide additional insight into the economic assessment of the system and the benefits to the UK economy.”