UK shoots for the stars as space-based solar power prepares for lift-off

UK shoots for the stars as space-based solar power prepares for lift-off

The UK’s space-based solar power industry is preparing for lift off thanks to a multi-million government investment to develop the cutting-edge technology.

In a speech at London Tech Week today, Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps will announce the leading UK universities and technology companies receiving a share of £4.3 million government funding to drive forward innovation in the sector.

Spaced-based solar power collects energy from the Sun using panels on satellites and beaming it safely back to earth with wireless technology.

The winning projects include Cambridge University, who will develop ultra-lightweight solar panels for the satellites that can function in the high-radiation conditions of space, and Queen Mary University in London, who are working on a wireless system to enable the solar power collected in space to be transferred to earth.

This technology – which is in the early stages of development – has huge potential to boost the UK’s energy security, reduce the need for fossil fuels and drive down household bills by providing solar power all year round, as the Sun is visible for over 99% of the time.

An independent study in 2021, found that space-based solar power could generate up to 10GW of electricity a year, a quarter of the UK’s power needs, by 2050. It could create a multi-billion pound industry, with 143,000 jobs across the country – supporting one of the Prime Minister’s priorities to grow the economy.

The UK is among several countries, including Japan and United States, committed to the development of space-based solar power. Earlier this month, scientists at the California Institute of Technology claimed to have achieved a world-first by successfully transmitting solar power to Earth from space.

I want the UK to boldly go where no country has gone before – boosting our energy security by getting our power directly from space.

We’re taking a giant leap by backing the development of this exciting technology and putting the UK at the forefront of this rapidly emerging industry as it prepares for launch.

By winning this new space race, we can transform the way we power our nation and provide cheaper, cleaner and more secure energy for generations to come. Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero Grant Shapps


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