Space-based Solar Power: Contributing to achieving Net Zero by 2050 [Oct/2022]
With the objective of achieving Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050, Europe is investigating ways to rapidly decarbonise its sources of electricity generation and ensure both stable and secure supply. While requiring substantial development, space-based solar power (SBSP) could deliver cost-competitive electricity generation, de-risking the path by providing a future source of clean, base-load energy by 2040 or earlier.
ESA commissioned in early 2022, two independent cost benefit studies of Space Based Solar Power for terrestrial energy needs from Frazer-Nash in the UK and Roland Berger in Germany. The studies concluded that:
- SBSP could provide competitively-priced electricity to European homes and businesses by 2040, displacing fossil-fuel sources of power and complementing existing renewables such as solar PV and wind, reducing the need for large-scale storage solutions;
- When deployed at scale, SBSP would provide substantial environmental, economic, and strategic benefits for Europe, including energy security;
- A lot of challenging technology developments are still needed to mature the feasibility of collecting gigawatts of power in space, per satellite, and delivering it efficiently and safely to users on Earth. But Europe has the main building blocks already and developments in the required technology areas will have widespread applications both on Earth and in space;
- If Europe is to benefit from this game-changing capability in time to make a difference for Climate, awareness raising, especially amongst the energy sector and public authorities, and further investments in technology R&D, are needed now.
The preliminary net value of a base case scenario (54 satellites by 2070) is estimated at €183 billion, with €418 billion of estimated SBSP costs and €601 billion of potential SBSP benefits (primarily avoided costs of terrestrial technologies and avoided social cost of CO2 emissions).
The SOLARIS programme is meant to prepare the ground for a possible decision in 2025 on a full SBSP development programme.
The complete set of deliverables, including translations of the brochure in various languages can be found here.
To access the full report of Frazer-Nash Consultancy, please click here (please log-in to access).
To access the full report of Roland-Berger, please click here (please log-in to access).