- BEIS has opened the SBSP Innovation Challenges offering £3 million for space based solar power projects
- It wants to explore generation of solar power in the space that can be beamed directly at a fixed point on the earth to supply 24×7 clean electricity
- Of the grant funding, £1.25 million is reserved for high concentrative solar PV technology
The UK government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is offering £3 million ($3.6 million) to support projects and technologies that are needed for Space Based Solar Power (SBSP) that can be beamed directly to the earth offering the potential to deliver clean baseload energy.
To be specific, the idea is to collect solar power in a high earth orbit and beaming it securely to a fixed point on the earth, making solar power available on land 24×7 irrespective of cloudy days and nighttime.
“The overall objective of this (SBSP Innovation) Competition is to support, through grants, the development of technologies associated with space based solar power systems which could potentially contribute to the UK’s Net Zero ambition, some of which may also have terrestrial applications,” reads the guidance document released.
The grant funding is to be distributed under 4 lots with high concentration solar PV technology having £1.25 million ($1.5 million) budget. It will support development of innovative solar cells to increase efficiency and reduce the cost of working with high irradiance levels. It could mean working with new materials with high saturation limits or new designs using conventional materials that are more resilient at high solar electromagnetic radiation fluxes.
Remaining lots are wireless power transmission, systems energy engineering focusing on design, integration and management of systems related to the above 2 segments, and SBSP mission architecture feasibility study. BEIS added that there is scope for an additional £3 million funding for the competition.
The competition was launched after a September 2021 dated independent report by Frazer-Nash Consultancy, commissioned by the BEIS, concluded that SBSP is technically feasible, affordable with a competitive levelized cost of electricity, likely to bring substantial economic benefits for the country and could support Net Zero pathways.
BEIS said the competition is open to applications between July 20, 2022 and September 23, 2022.
This competition comes after the UK government said in May 2022 that it plans to build a solar power plant in space through the UK Space Energy Initiative and have a demonstrator in orbit by 2025.
Recently, local Chinese media reported China’s plans to build the 1st ever solar power plant in space by 2028 where a satellite will convert solar energy to microwaves or lasers and beam it to fixed locations back home.
The California Institute of Technology is working on such a project that will generate solar power in space and beam it to the earth. A test launch of multifunctional technology-demonstrator prototype is due in early 2023 (see CalTech To Test Solar Power Generation In Space).