British company plans to build solar farm in Earth orbit

British company plans to build solar farm in Earth orbit

Category: Energy News, News

Building a solar farm in space would undoubtedly require dozens of space flights and a team of ‘construction robots’ to assemble it in orbit. In an era of significant technological advances, such projects could become a reality.

The British company Space Solar has announced plans to power over a million homes by 2030 using a complex of mirrors and solar panels over 1.5 km wide, orbiting 35,000 km above our planet.

Space-based solar power is a disruptive approach to energy generation. At the forefront of this approach is the CASSIOPeiA concept. The idea is to use satellites in orbit equipped with large, lightweight solar panels and a system of mirrors to capture sunlight and convert it into electricity. This energy would then be transmitted via high-frequency radio waves to a ground station on Earth, providing a continuous and reliable source of clean energy 24 hours a day, all year round. To collect sunlight consistently, the system must rotate towards the sun regardless of its position, while continuously sending energy to the ground receiver.

Engineers at Queen’s University in Belfast have successfully demonstrated turning on a light in a room using a wirelessly transmitted beam of energy. The 360° beam steering demonstration showed the unique ability to direct the energy beam in any direction, ensuring continuous power regardless of orientation. In addition, a feedback control system was demonstrated, demonstrating precise beam steering and control for safe and optimal energy delivery. The demonstration also included characterisation of the beam shape and validation of the results with mathematical models to optimise the system design.

Such an approach to energy harvesting has incredible potential. Providing constant access to green energy could have a significant impact on the development of future energy systems.

Solar panels capture 13 times more energy in space than on Earth because the light intensity is higher and there is no atmosphere, clouds or night. Even if some energy is lost during transmission to Earth and connection to the grid, it would still far exceed conventional solar energy production methods known to us on Earth.

Producing energy from space 24/7 could accelerate solutions to green hydrogen production and many other energy challenges.

The company recently announced a partnership with Transition Labs, a private initiative focused on supporting breakthrough climate projects. By leveraging the expertise and support of this partner, combined with the continued development of its technology, Space Solar aims to deliver over 100MW of commercial power from space within the next decade.

How could this work? Watch the presentation below: