Space-based energy generation
Weltraumbasierte Energieproduktion. Hungerland, T. (2023) Themenkurzprofil Nr. 66. Büro für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung beim Deutschen Bundestag (TAB)
Space-based solar power (SBSP or Solar Power Satellite - SPS) refers to the collection of solar energy in space and its transfer to ground stations on the Earth's surface. After the first theoretical considerations in the 1960s and decades of infrequent technical and economic feasibility studies, the topic has regained importance in the last 10 years at the latest. On the one hand, this is due to the pressure to accelerate the expansion of renewable energies in order to meet climate targets. On the other hand, the cost of launching payloads into space has fallen significantly in recent years, reducing the economic barriers to space-based energy production. A space-based power generation system essentially consists of three components: A space station to collect solar energy and transmit it to Earth, where it needs to be converted into a form of energy that can be transmitted wirelessly; a ground station to receive the energy and convert it into electricity; and a launch system to carry the space station components into Earth orbit. There are a number of potential benefits associated with space-based power generation: A stable energy supply with electricity from renewable energy sources, technical innovations for wireless energy transmission as well as strategic autonomy of individual nations in energy supply (e.g. reduction of dependence on electricity imports). However, it is still unclear what role space-based power generation can play in the transformation of the energy system. Although there have been isolated successes in testing sub-systems, such as wireless energy transfer, there has not yet been a prototypical implementation of the whole system. Developments are currently underway in the US, China, the UK and the European Space Agency (ESA).
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Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB) (TAB)
Horizon scanning - detecting scientific and technical trends and socio-economic developments in early development stages (TAB)