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Europe wants to harness the power of the sun…. from space

Transitioning to clean energy is imperative — and Europe is committed to achieving net zero emissions by the year 2050. But relying on existing renewable energy sources alone won’t do the trick. Intermittency of supply, pressures on land use, scalability, and toxic waste limit how quickly and effectively those solutions can be rolled out.

But there’s hope. The European Space Agency (ESA) has been exploring a new technological solution that could overcome all these challenges: solar power delivered wirelessly from space to Earth — also known as space-based solar power (SBSP).

Although this might seem like science-fiction, the concept is more achievable than it sounds. The sun is continuously available, inexhaustible, and sustainable. Harnessing its power from above the Earth would be more efficient compared to weather-dependent terrestrial solar power solutions. In fact, sunlight is on average more than ten times as intense at the top of the atmosphere as it is down at the surface of the Earth.

The question is how do we manage this?

What’s ESA’s vision for SBSP?

According to the agency, Europe can use its expertise in building and launching communications satellites to develop and scale-up to solar power equivalents.

Once completed, these satellites will collect the full power of the sun’s energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week and beam it down wirelessly to Earth to receiver stations. These will then convert it into electricity and feed it to the grid.