In Science and Space: Desperate times call for desperate measures. A brutal war of aggression in Ukraine has led Europe to look for alternatives to cheap natural gas from Russia. One option is space-based solar power. This is a system of solar panels in geostationary orbit that can carry large amounts of electrical power to the earth below.
Space-based solar power has only one problem. No technology exists to make it happen, and there’s no guarantee that the idea is even viable outside the realm of science fiction. Still, science fiction has inspired people to land on the moon and nuclear power, so in the future he may have a place for SBSP.
These panels are highly efficient because water vapor, clouds, or bird droppings do not block some of the sun’s energy. Also, there is no NIMBY battle over where to place them. Another important advantage is that such systems can be powered from space almost 24 hours a day, eliminating power outage issues and the need for energy storage.
The European Space Agency will ask member states to fund the Solaris program at a meeting later this year. Solaris studies the feasibility of space-based solar power, assessing technical feasibility, benefits, implementation options, commercial opportunities, and risks associated with the technology.
The ESA commissioned a feasibility study from the UK advisory group Frazer-Nash and Germany’s Roland Berger. In his press release, Frazer Nash Space Business Manager Martin Soltau said: Our assessment shows that space-based solar power can provide sustainable and affordable energy for the UK. With bold government leadership, space-based solar energy can be developed in time to contribute significantly to energy demand well before 2050.
“Our report recommends that governments incorporate space-based solar energy into relevant policies such as the Net Zero Path and the National Space Strategy. A step-by-step technology development and demonstration program, targeting an orbital demonstrator by 2031 and an operational system by 2040, must urgently begin. Cooperation with international partners is required, and governments are playing a leading role in shaping the regulatory environment to make space-based solar power safe and sustainable. ” Roland Berger’s report states that SBSP is technically feasible and economically competitive with other renewable energy sources. Senior his partner Martin Heuer said: