The Space Energy Initiative welcomes the publication by UK Government today, of the Frazer-Nash Consultancy study into Space Based Solar Power and the endorsement and support of this as an element of the UK’s approach to meeting Net Zero.
Decarbonising our economies to tackle global warming is an exceptionally important goal and one which the UK is taking very seriously, demonstrating strong leadership and ambition. Yet here in the UK we still do not have a viable route to achieve this by 2050. Intermittent technologies such as wind and terrestrial solar need to be backed up with baseload energy. There is no doubt that we need innovation in new clean, affordable baseload energy technologies if we are to achieve the imperative of Net Zero. Harvesting solar power in space could provide large scale, clean energy, day and night through all seasons and weather.
The independent techno-economic study by systems, engineering and technology consultancy, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, shows that Space Based Solar Power is now both technically feasible and economically attractive. It has very good environmental characteristics, a low carbon payback period, and low land usage. Uniquely, it is possible to beam energy to other parts of the world, and thus nations can collaborate to help the developing nations decarbonise. It could offer new options for the UK and all nations to reach Net Zero.
This is a fantastic opportunity for international partnership and UK leadership. Thanks to recent advances in the solar power satellite designs, and the greatly falling cost of launch, this concept is being actively pursued by a number of nations that could make strong partners for the UK. There are a range of options for bringing government, international, and private investment together, in ways that can deliver net zero and major economic returns. The spin out technologies alone, from wireless power beaming, to robotic assembly in space, to high concentration photovoltaics are significant.
The Space Energy Initiative and its members are aligned and working hard to enable this future. The UK has strengths in many of the key areas required and with purposeful partnership between the energy, space, and manufacturing sectors there are businesses and individuals that can make this societal moonshot a reality.
Today’s announcement is the start, and we encourage government to take action to enable industry and international partnerships to mobilise. We need to start now and follow this announcement with strong support through the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, and to use the platform available through COP26, to realise the Net Zero, energy security, and economic benefits that can be delivered.
Martin Soltau, Co-Chair of the Space Energy Initiative said:
“Achieving Net Zero emissions is incredibly important but poses immense challenges, and we urgently need to develop this kind of ambitious energy technology if we are to achieve a sustainable clean energy future. We warmly welcome the Government’s vision and support to establish the UK as one of the leading nations developing Space Based Solar Power. We look forward to working closely with the Government and with international partners to turn this vision into a practical reality within the next two decades.”
Sam Adlen, Co-Chair of the Space Energy Initiative said:
“This bold study that has been commissioned by BEIS demonstrates the sort of ambition and vision that the UK needs to be able to deliver Net Zero and a bright economic future. Better leveraging of the energy from the sun is clearly an important aspect of achieving Net Zero. With advances in the space sector, space solar power systems are now eminently achievable and can enable us to deliver clean baseload power and expand our economic frontiers. With bold leadership, this can inspire a generation and set secure foundations for many generations after.”
The summary report can be found on the government website at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/space-based-solar-power-de-risking-the-pathway-to-net-zero, and the detailed technical reports together with the summary report can be found on the Frazer-Nash Consultancy website at https://www.fnc.co.uk/what-we-do/your-industry/space/space-solar-power.
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 interested in taking part in such a programme can register their interest at the gov.uk link above.