Space-Based Solar Power

Updated: Jul 1, 2021

Solar, wind, nuclear, and carbon capture might have a new sustainable energy ally.

Space-based solar power (SBSP) is nearing reality, and while rarely considered as a viable candidate in the sustainable energy mix, it might serve as a valuable resource as the world completes its transition to renewable energy sources.

Until recently, the idea of lasers in the upper-atmosphere was typically only found in science fiction. But by installing large mirror-like solar reflectors on orbital satellites, which convert the energy into electromagnetic radiation and beam it back to the Earth - with a laser or as microwave energy - is a real possibility, according to a report from Power Technology.

On the ground, a rectifying antenna could receive the waves of electromagnetic radiation types from space-based lasers, and change them into electricity, ready for entry into electricity grids.

If coordinated, a global network of solar-power satellites could provide and potentially relay energy to ground-based infrastructures - regardless of time-of-day, or weather. This would be especially helpful in the winter, when only 3 percent of average monthly sunlight reaches the surface (in Europe), whereas satellites could supply continual energy for 99 percent of the year, according to the report.

The world has far to go before it can successfully transition away from fossil fuels and other sources linked to climate change. But as the nations and major corporations of the world increasingly endorse plans to reduce carbon emissions and integrate alternative sources, we could look to space - where the fringe of human advancement happens - to shore up the failings of the most ingrained industrial practices.