The UK government is reportedly considering a £16 billion proposal to build a solar power station in space.
Yes, you read that right. Space-based solar power is one of the technologies to feature in the government’s Net Zero Innovation Portfolio. It has been identified as a potential solution, alongside others, to enable the UK to achieve net zero by 2050.
But how would a solar power station in space work? What are the advantages and drawbacks to this technology?
Space-based solar power involves collecting solar energy in space and transferring it to Earth. While the idea itself is not new, recent technological advances have made this prospect more achievable.
The space-based solar power system involves a solar power satellite – an enormous spacecraft equipped with solar panels. These panels generate electricity, which is then wirelessly transmitted to Earth through high-frequency radio waves. A ground antenna, called a rectenna, is used to convert the radio waves into electricity, which is then delivered to the power grid.