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Clean Power Space-based Solar Power

Published on June 18th, 2013 | by Mridul Chadha

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National Space Society Will Pitch Space-based Solar Power To G8 Nations

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June 18th, 2013 by  

India and the US-based National Space Society have finally announced the launch of a space-based solar power initiative that plans to market the idea of economically (and certainly technically) viable space-based solar power infrastructure to government leaders around the world.

Space-based Solar Power

Credit: NASA | Public Domain

India’s renowned space and missile technology expert, and former Indian President, Dr APJ Adbul Kalam and the NSS started discussions on this out-of-the-world venture in November 2010 just before President Obama’s maiden visit to India.

These discussions were prompted by a study by the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses, an Indian Defense Ministry think tank. The study was conducted by Peter Garretson, a US Air Force lieutenant colonel. Gerrestson urged the Indian and American governments to work together to make space-based solar power generation a commercially viable business by 2025.

Gerrestson was able to propose such an ambitious plan only after the US administration lifted technology sharing restrictions from Indian agencies like the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The study proposed three stages for the implementation of the space-based solar program.

Expanding on the three-stage plan, Garretson says an initial five-year $10-30 million programme will develop contributing technologies and build a competent work force culminating in a roadmap for a demonstration prototype.

A second, $10 billion, 10-year phase will see the formation of an international consortium to construct a sub-scale space solar power system that can directly be scaled up by industry. The final stage will entail India-US leadership to set up an international for-profit consortium along the lines of the INTELSAT model to address energy security and carbon mitigation concerns.

This partnership between India and the US is significant for several reasons: they are among the top five greenhouse house emitters in the world; they are among the largest solar energy markets in the world; and they are among the handful of nations with proven space technology and active space programs. Other countries, organisations, and research institutes are working on similar programs with a goal to get governments around the world to work towards a massive space-based solar power network.

If the NSS manages to convince the G8/G20 nations to devote financial and technological resources for this ambitious program it could work wonders for the energy sector, help create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the world and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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About the Author

currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.



  • Matt

    Cost to get material into space is too high. Also who is going to be ok with beaming the power down. I think this is still out a ways.

  • JMin2020

    When I talked with a project lead on this program; the technical approach did seem sound. Getting the technology to integrate with existing activities on this planet will require some cooperation and coordination.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Why?

      If the basic idea of parking solar panels where they will get sunlight 24/365 and beaming down the power works, what’s the difference between integrating that steady stream of power on the grid and incorporating a new hydro/whatever facility?

      Use the space station. Send up some more panels. Run the feed down from there. People will be on site to reattach wires/stuff.

      Costs can be modeled.

      If the cost is there then work toward a system that can send various amounts of power to different receivers at different times. Sell into peak demand/high wholesale price hours. Make it load-following and ‘best market’ selective. Go for the cream.

      That would probably need the various stations to have the ability to ship power between each other as well as end it to ground.

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