Space-Based Solar Power

Nov 3, 2023

SolarShare may soon need to assess the value of expanding membership to infinity and beyond!

But before we start considering the implications of membership in an Extraterrestrial renewable energy co-op, let’s talk about why that might one day be a (very faint) possibility: the rise of Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP).

What exactly is SBSP? Simply put, SBSP uses satellites in space to collect solar energy, without the interference of pesky Earthly complications such as nighttime and the atmosphere. Then, it gets transmitted by either laser or (more likely) microwave back down to a receiver on Earth, where it is converted into electricity.

It may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but this infographic from the U.S. Department of Energy is a great non-fiction breakdown of the very real science.

In fact, our neighbours to the south are taking the potential of SBSP seriously. Caltech recently wirelessly transmitted power in space for the first time and has even beamed a small amount of power back to Earth.

In fact, there are projects and plans around the world with the goal of one day getting solar energy directly from the source at scale.

The European Space Agency’s Solaris project is underway, researching the potential of solar power stations in orbit to meet the EU’s energy needs.

And Japan has been working on SBSP since the ‘80s – but now plans to scale up and start beaming down significant amounts of solar energy from space by 2025.

Now of course this is all very expensive, but as the planet warms and hundreds of millions of people don’t have access to electricity as the Earth’s population rises, it would seem that we need to find scalable renewable energy solutions. And, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, a microwave solar satellite can provide enough power for a large city – so maybe this is one of those necessary solutions.

Alas, Spacetime will tell!