The Technology

Game changing clean energy technology

Space-Based Solar Power is the concept of harvesting solar energy in space and beaming it to earth continuously, safely and securely.
Solar Power Satellite

The system comprises a kilometre scale satellite in a high earth orbit. It features lightweight solar panels and a system of mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto the panels. The electricity generated is converted into high frequency radio waves, and the power is beamed to a receiving antenna at a fixed point on the ground below.

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How it Works

  1. Solar Reflectors – The orientation of the satellites is sun pointing to constantly reflect sunlight onto the solar panel array below
  2. Solar Panels and Transmitters – 60,000 layers of power modules collect the sunlight from the reflectors and convert this to high-frequency radio waves
  3. Power Transmission – A coherent, collimated beam of radio waves is transmitted to a rectifying antenna on the ground

Space Based Solar Power technology elements and enablers

System Overview

The system collects the solar energy and transmits it down to earth. A 2GW satellite weighs 2,000 tonnes, is 1.7km in diameter and its unique architecture allows it to operate in a range of orbits, including Geosynchronous, at 36,000 km, or Highly Elliptical Orbits. This gives good operational utility for a range of energy markets and regions on earth.

Wireless Power Beaming

The technology of power beaming with high efficiency is well established and demonstrated at 30kW scale in terrestrial trials. A closed loop control system provides pointing accuracy and security.

Our development roadmap demonstrates successive increases in Wireless Power Beaming power levels and distance, safety and control.

Ground Station

The ‘rectenna’ is a large but sparse net-like structure holding the small dipoles which convert the microwave energy into electricity.

It is typically several kilometres in diameter, though the area is just 8% of a wind farm delivering equivalent energy output, and could be sited offshore adjacent to wind farms.

Enabling Systems

The system will utilise fully reusable heavy lift earth to orbit space transportation, which is being developed and delivered by several global companies. The assembly of the structure in space will be enabled by advances in autonomous robotic systems, which is a rapidly developing sector.

Why Space-Based Solar Power is now viable and affordable

Long seen as technically viable, recent advances in reusable launch systems, autonomous robotics, and high performance photovoltaics have dramatically cut the cost of Space Based Solar Power.

The latest Solar Power Satellite concepts such as CASSIOPeiA are lower in mass (for lower launch costs), and use highly modular architecture, leading to manufacturing cost reductions and resilience to failures.

CASSIOPeiA – the market leading Solar Power Satellite design

Of the Solar Power Satellite concepts which can deliver 24/7 baseload power, the most capable is CASSIOPeiA. Conceived by the UK company IECL it has patented design features which offer strong economic and operational benefits, with a best-in-class specific power predicted to be 1 kW/kg.

This results in a low Levelised Cost of Electricity competitive with intermittent terrestrial renewables.

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