Is space-based solar the answer to net zero?

A new report has been published claiming that solar power generated off our planet could now be affordable and feasible – could it become a crucial element in the UK’s net zero journey?

Pathway to COP26 report

Could space-based solar help the UK reach net zero emissions by 2050?

It could be a feasible solution to cutting the country’s carbon footprint according to a new study from the Frazer-Nash Consultancy, on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Space-based solar does not rely on the weather and can provide clean energy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The study is calling for further development to be undertaken in the field as a possible rival or addition to nuclear power and gas power stations fitted with carbon capture.

It also stated that solar power from the great beyond is now affordable with the falling cost of space launch, advances in solar power satellite designs, robotics, photovoltaics and power beaming.

The report concludes that a £16.3 billion investment would be needed across the next 18 years but also that public funding would be required given its risks, costs and timescales.

It calls for the issue to be brought up and discussed in detail at COP26.

Greg Hands, Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change Minister, said: “This report sets out how solar energy from space is both technically viable and affordable.

“We are committed to exploring every way we can to meet the challenge which climate change poses and stop the harmful impact on our precious planet.

“We are stopping the digging up of harmful fossil fuels, like coal, for our energy. If a feasible and affordable replacement can be found off our own planet, then we will look to consider this option with interest, in our quest for clean power.”

The report ended: “[Space-based solar power] offers new options to de-risk the pathways to net zero.

“A number of challenges and considerations are identified which can be answered with a staged programme of development and demonstration. The associated costs and economic benefits are identified.

“Recommendations are made that the UK should integrate Space-based solar power into key government policies and take a leadership role in developing the technology.”

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