UK commissions research into space-based solar power stations

16 November 2020 (Last Updated November 16th, 2020 10:41)

The UK Government has announced the commissioning of new research into space-based solar power (SBSP) systems, which would collect energy in space using large solar satellites.

UK commissions research into space-based solar power stations
The UK Government commissions new research into space-based solar power systems that would collect energy in space using large solar satellites. Credit: Guillaume Preat from Pixabay.

The UK Government has announced the commissioning of new research into space-based solar power (SBSP) systems, which would collect energy in space using large solar satellites.

The system will convert the collected solar energy into high-frequency radio waves and beam it back to ground-based receivers connected to the electrical power grid.

UK Space Agency chief executive Dr Graham Turnock said: “The Sun never sets in space, so a space-solar power system could supply renewable energy to anywhere on the planet, day or night, rain or shine. It is an idea that has existed for decades but has always felt decades away.

“The UK is growing its status as a global player in space and we have bold plans to launch small satellites in the coming years. Space solar could be another string to our bow, and this study will help establish whether it is right for the UK.”

The government will examine if this renewable technology could offer a resilient, safe and sustainable energy source.

Frazer-Nash Consultancy is leading the study and will focus on the feasibility of such a system by considering the engineering and economics of the system.

Frazer-Nash Consultancy space business manager Martin Soltau said: “We need to explore new technologies to provide clean, affordable, secure and dependable energy for the nation. SBSP has the potential to contribute substantially to UK energy generation and offers many benefits if it can be made practical and affordable.

“Frazer-Nash is studying the leading international solar power satellite designs, and we will be drawing up the engineering plan to deploy an operational SBSP system by 2050.”

An expert panel consisting of SBSP experts and space and energy organisations will be formed to obtain a range of industry views.

Last year, the UK has generated more electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar and nuclear power with almost no carbon emissions.