European Space Agency is considering major investment in space-based solar power

TWh is a unit of energy used for expressing the amount of produced energy, electricity, and heat.

These systems’ development and deployment would cost hundreds of billions of euros. To enable space-based solar power, a constellation of dozens of massive, sunlight-gathering satellites located 36,000 kilometers from Earth would be required.

Each of these satellites would be 10 or more times heavier than the International Space Station (ISS), which weighs 450 metric tons and took over a decade to build in low Earth orbit.

Launching the components of these satellites would ultimately necessitate hundreds, if not thousands, of heavy-lift rocket launches.

“Using projected near-term space lift capability, such as SpaceX‚Äôs Starship, and current launch constraints, delivering one satellite into orbit would take between 4 and 6 years,” reported Frazer-Nash, one of the two consulting firms.

“Providing the number of satellites to satisfy the maximum contribution that SBSP could make to the energy mix in 2050 would require a 200-fold increase over current space-lift capacity.”

European Space Agency is considering major investment in space-based solar power

Screengrab from the ESA’s proposal.

The disadvantages

Tesla head, Elon Musk, is well-known for his utter contempt for such technology.

“It’s the stupidest thing ever. If anyone should like space solar power, it should be me. I’ve got a rocket company and a solar company,” Musk said several years ago.

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