Space Based Solar Power is a clean source of sustainable baseload power at scale, 24 hours per day, 365 days of the year. And unlike wind and terrestrial solar, power is delivered regardless of the weather. It doesn’t care if it is calm or windy, sunny or overcast. It is a credible addition, or alternative, to baseload nuclear and gas power stations fitted with carbon capture. The report recommends that a staged technology development and demonstration programme is undertaken, and exploratory discussions held with international partners.
The independent study, undertaken by systems, engineering and technology company, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, looked at the technical feasibility, cost and economics of Space Based Solar Power as a new generation technology which could provide safe, sustainable power for the UK. The report found that with the falling cost of space launch, new solar power satellite designs and advancing technology in photovoltaics, power beaming and robotics, Space Based Solar Power is now both technically feasible and affordable, and could support Net Zero pathways. Moreover the development investment could bring substantial economic benefits for the UK which strongly outweigh the costs.
Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said:
“This report sets out how solar energy from space is both technically viable and affordable. We are committed to exploring every way we can to meet the challenge which climate change poses and stop the harmful impact on our precious planet.
“We are stopping the digging up of harmful fossil fuels, like coal, for our energy. If a feasible and affordable replacement can be found off our own planet, then we will look to consider this option with interest, in our quest for clean power.”
Frazer-Nash Space Business Manager, Martin Soltau, who directed the study said:
“Innovation in new baseload energy technologies will be essential to deliver on the government’s commitment to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050. Our assessment has shown that Space Based Solar Power can deliver sustainable and affordable energy for the UK. Given bold leadership by the Government, Space Based Solar Power can be developed in time to make a substantial contribution to our energy needs well before 2050.
“Our report recommends that the Government incorporates Space Based Solar Power into relevant policies, including Net Zero pathways and the National Space Strategy. A staged technology development and demonstration programme should be initiated with urgency which would see an orbital demonstrator by 2031, and an operational system by 2040. Collaboration with international partners will be necessary and the Government has a leading role in shaping the regulatory environment for realising Space Based Solar Power, safely and sustainably.
“We welcome today’s release of the Space Based Solar Power report. The government has indicated that it is keen to build further on the findings of Frazer-Nash, developing international partnerships and investigating the potential that Space Based Solar Power offers in the drive towards decarbonisation.
We are also excited to be part of the Space Energy Initiative, a collaboration of leading organisations in energy and space, formed to take forward the development of Space Based Solar Power for the UK.”
More information on the Space Energy Initiative can be found here.
The Government is minded to fund a future innovation programme looking at developing Space Based Solar Power technologies through its Net Zero Innovation Portfolio. Organisations who are interested in taking part in such a programme can register their interest here.