Arches Trend Column Vol.6 Power Generation “in Space”



  • Space Solar Power Systems (SSPS) are garnering rapid attention as a solution to conventional solar power generation challenges. By deploying satellites with massive solar panels in space, they collect solar energy and transmit it back to Earth.
  • SEI, an industry-academia collaboration, plans to deploy a constellation of super-sized satellites in geostationary orbit to collect and transmit solar energy to Earth. By 2050, this system could provide over 100 times the energy needed for global consumption.


Conventional solar power generation faces numerous challenging issues such as light scattering by the atmosphere and weather-related impacts, which are difficult to overcome. On the other hand, Space Solar Power Systems (SSPS) have gained rapid attention due to recent technological advancements. 

SSPS is able to collect solar energy in space using satellites equipped with massive solar panels. With these panels in space, SSPS overcomes the intermittency of terrestrial renewable energy by harvesting solar energy in space and supplying it to the Earth’s power grid. 

The concept of SSPS has been under consideration for several decades, as all communication satellites since the 1960s have used solar panels to generate power and transmit it to Earth as microwave signals. While the scaling up of satellites and space-based solar power has been proposed, it was deemed cost-prohibitive. 

On a brighter note, recent progressions have greatly increased the feasibility of SSPS. For instance, the emergence of reusable rockets led to a 90% reduction in launch costs and significant advancements in the design and modular production of solar power satellites.

The Space Energy Initiative (SEI), an industry-academia collaboration, is planning a project called “Cassiopeia” to deploy a constellation of super-sized satellites in geostationary orbit to collect solar energy and transmit it back to Earth.

These satellites consist of numerous small modules produced in ground-based factories. They are assembled in space by autonomous robots, which also provide services and maintenance. 

The solar energy collected by the satellites is converted into high-frequency radio waves and then transformed into electricity on the ground. Each satellite is capable of transmitting approximately 2 GW of power, which is considered equivalent to the output of a nuclear power plant.

According to Mr. Soltau, the chairman of SEI, there is ample space to deploy solar power satellites in orbit, and the potential energy supply from the Sun is vast. He states that it is possible to supply more than 100 times the amount of energy predicted to be consumed by the entire human population annually by 2050.

In another case, at the beginning of 2023, an engineering study conducted by consulting firm Frazer-Nash concluded the feasibility of this technology, leading the UK government to announce funding of £3 million for the Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) project.

SSPS offers not only the characteristics of renewable energy but also the advantage of being able to switch the power transmission destination from space using wireless energy transmission. 

SSPS also has minimal power generation fluctuations due to weather and day-night cycles. Besides, due to the absence of the atmosphere, it is significantly more efficient than solar power generation on Earth.

However, there is still long-term research & development on mass transportation technology to space and long-term operation with further adjustments to make these initiatives come to real life.

Meanwhile, it is important to focus on further advancements in existing renewable energy technologies on Earth, as well as the progress and societal implementation of technologies such as energy storage to mitigate power generation fluctuations.

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Top News Arches Trend Column Vol.6 Power Generation “in Space”