The United Kingdom wants a solar power plant in space by 2035

Several players in British aerospace engineering are currently considering a major project. The goal will be to assemble a first orbital solar power plant in the mid-2030s. However, researchers assure that the technology to support such structures already exists.

We know that the project of an orbital solar power plant has been in Chinese papers for some time. The idea is to rely on the country’s next super-heavy launcher to allow installation assembly at an altitude of about 36,000 km. From there, the panels will be responsible for collecting energy, which will then be transmitted to Earth using a microwave or laser.

A project like this makes sense. In contrast to what happens on earth, No atmosphere Really absorbs the sun’s rays in space. Thus solar radiation is four times more than the earth’s surface. A space power plant will not be subject No day / night changeWhich will allow it to happen 99% time effective. The amount of energy thus available should be eight to ten times greater than that of a solar power plant on the ground.

The UK is also starting

It looks like the UK is also looking at this type of technology. About fifty British companies have actually joined, including some “heavyweights” such as Airbus, the University of Cambridge or the satellite maker SSTL. UK Space Energy Initiative. Formed last year, the goal of this framework is to explore development options Space Solar Power Station.

During the conference Towards a space-capable Net-Zero Earth, At a recent meeting in London, Martin Soltau, President of the UK Space Energy Initiative, assured that all the technologies needed to develop a space solar power plant already exist. To confirm this, he relied on an in-depth engineering study conducted last year by Fraser-Nash, a consulting firm commissioned by the British government.

According to company officials, such a project could help the UK achieve its goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which is more cost-effective than all other existing technologies. It’s a paper-based idea, but researchers have been working on a plan for more than a dozen years. In the endAt a launch Exhibition power plant from 2035.

A space solar power plant will produce much more energy than an equivalent station on Earth. Credit: Space Energy Initiative

A huge project

Make no mistake, this is a huge project. The structure of this exhibition could indeed already be A few kilometers wide And at least it will be needed Three hundred launches SpaceX starship-sized rocket in orbit. The idea is to move it into geostationary orbit (about 36,000 kilometers at altitude).

The initiative is currently undergoing an exploration Modular concept Called CASSIOPeiA (for constant aperture, solid-state, integrated, orbital phased arrays). It was built by the British engineering firm International Electric Company. The modular nature of this orbital power plant means that it can extend the stage of demonstration.

The main functions of satellites are to collect solar energy through large lightweight mirrors and to focus the optics on photovoltaic cells, just as we do on Earth.“Martin Soltau says.” They will generate DC power that will be converted into a microwave via a solid state radio frequency power amplifier and transmitted to Earth in a coherent microwave beam.

To get power from space, the system would need a huge terrestrial antenna Seven by thirteen kilometers. Nicknamed “La Rectena”, the structure will capture microwave radiation sent from space and convert it into a direct current of electricity.

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