The amount of energy a solar station in space could provide may be enough to supply 10 billion people at six times the current US levels of energy consumption per capita – so what are they and when could they be implemented?

Hello everyone!

Last week we talked about the local efforts around Reading, specifically the University of Reading, to create a greener planet for the future. This week I want to talk about the idea of launching a solar power station into space. This is one of the “megaprojects” that the New Scientist have listed that may help the planet considerably.

Futuristic Fad Or Climate Saviour?

Launching solar panels into space definitely sounds like we are turning into Star Wars, but it sounds pretty cool to me. And if it helps to make the planet greener, then surely, it’s a win-win?
Most strategies for helping the planet to become greener are centred around small actions from larger communities. Such as, measuring and reducing your individual energy consumption to live under 2 kWh per person a day. This could be a simple step like remembering to switch your laptop off and not leaving it in sleep mode.

However, this climate challenge is so sheer in scale, some bigger and bolder steps are needed. So, let’s see about the Star Wars solution (launching a solar power station into space). Solar panels being used on the planet are amazing, and I really encourage this, but clouds can be a nuisance. In space, though, there are no clouds between a solar panel and the sun. The amount of energy a solar station could provide would be astronomical – “enough to supply 10 billion people at six times the current US levels of energy consumption per capita”, (IEC).

The Problems With Solar Power Stations In Space

The main problem, as with most things is cost. Cost for the building, cost for launching, cost for maintenance, cost for employees etc. But there are now reusable rockets, so this cost has reduced – one positive! Another positive is knowing how to get the power back down to Earth – “microwaves beamed to a ground-based receiver called a rectenna”, (researchers at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena).

Now for the negative, building a space solar station is estimated to produce 80% as much carbon as the UK does in a year, (Andrew Wilson, Metasat UK). Even though this would be paid back by the future savings every year, it is still a concern.

Before The Space Age Of Solar Power…

Lots of efforts are currently being looked into for solar power stations in space, with some likely to be tested within the next few years. Personally, I think this is pretty cool and very exciting. But before we get to the space age of solar power, I highly encourage that we all use some solar power ourselves on Earth. Especially as we are just starting to come into spring and get some more sun, those pesky clouds are lessening. Solar panels are a great way to reduce our energy consumption and get yourself outside in nature too!

I hope everyone had a lovely week, and I will see you next week for another Amy’s Hot Topic.

Bye! #undertwok #2kWh



New Scientist – Five climate megaprojects that might just save the world – 13th March 2024 – Jon Cartwright, Alison George, Joshua Howgego, Stuart Clark and Nicola Jones.

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