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Clean Solar Power From Space? Startup Makes Major Progress

A UK-based startup is making significant advancements towards its goal of delivering gigawatts of clean energy to Earth using massive solar arrays placed in orbit. Space Solar has announced a breakthrough in wireless power transmission technology, a vital step in realizing the ambitious concept of space-based solar power.

The potential of space-based solar

The idea of harnessing solar energy in space, where sunlight is virtually uninterrupted, offers immense potential for addressing global energy needs. Unlike terrestrial solar power, it’s not limited by weather conditions, seasons, or time of day. Although this concept has been around for some time, until recently the costs of space launches have been a major obstacle. Fortunately, the advent of reusable rockets and declining launch costs, spearheaded by companies like SpaceX, have revitalized interest in this potential game-changer.

Key breakthrough – Wireless power transmission

As RECHARGE reports, Space Solar’s “world first” involves a unique 360-degree wireless power transmission system. Their HARRIER demonstrator marks a technological leap, addressing a major challenge in space-based solar implementation. Traditional systems require large rotating joints to continuously align solar arrays with both the sun and the Earth-based receiver. HARRIER allows for energy transmission in all directions without the need for moving parts, improving both performance and reliability.

How does space-based solar power work?

Space Solar envisions a kilometer-wide satellite equipped with solar panels and a system of mirrors to concentrate the sunlight. The electricity generated will be converted into high-frequency radio waves and beamed down to a fixed ground-based receiver. This would provide uninterrupted, gigawatt-scale clean power.

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Challenges and considerations

While the potential is immense, space-based solar power does present unique challenges. The scale of the project, both in terms of construction and energy transmission, requires significant technological innovation. Additionally, concerns around the safety of high-power wireless transmission and potential impacts on space debris must be carefully addressed.

Future outlook

Space Solar’s progress has garnered support from the UK government and the European Space Agency, fueling momentum towards making space-based solar a reality. Paul Bate, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, underscores the achievement, stating: “Safe, wireless, 360° energy transmission is a game-changer, and demonstrates the UK’s leading position in this new energy revolution, quite literally harnessing the power of space to benefit life on Earth.”

This innovation could significantly transform the global energy landscape, ushering in a future where clean, dependable energy is beamed down from space. As Space Solar and other pioneers continue to push technological boundaries, the dream of limitless solar power from orbit may soon become a reality.

Source: IE

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