UK Space-Based Solar Power Project Secures Government Funding

Sam Adlen
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Space innovation and technology company the Satellite Applications Catapult has taken the first step in the development of a new sustainable energy technology from space.

The Catapult has secured almost £500k in funding from the UK Space Agency to kick-start research and development into a future Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) system, which will ultimately create a new, fully renewable baseload energy technology.

The project, which runs until March 2023, will complete three important pieces of enabling work for SBSP:

Wireless power transmission from space – it will investigate how to deliver a high-altitude demonstration of wireless power transmission and simulate the power density effects of SBSP on satellites and aircraft.

Standard tooling interface development for in-orbit servicing and manufacturing – it will research the tools needed for the manipulation, servicing and assembly of modular structures in space and produce prototypes to support their standardisation.

Programme Assurance – it will look at best practice engineering processes for complex energy programmes, identify existing standards and gaps for SBSP relevant technologies, and create a regulatory roadmap for the technology.

Sam Adlen, Chief Strategy Officer at the Satellite Applications Catapult said:

This project is a vital first step in the development of a viable Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) solution. By funding SBSP, the UK Space Agency is demonstrating its commitment to this important future energy technology and that gives us a vital boost as we kick-start this work.
The funding allows us to deliver many of the critical enabling elements to ensure we get the whole solution, from technology to environmental and regulatory aspects, right the first time. As the world races to achieve net-zero, momentum is building globally and nations looking for future energy security are closely watching the UK’s progress.

Dr Mamatha Maheshwarappa, Payload Systems Lead at the UK Space Agency, said:

Space Based Solar Power (SBSP) has the exciting potential to provide sustainable energy, helping meet the government’s net-zero target and provide energy security. We’re supporting Space Based Solar Power at different stages to accelerate the technology developments. This funding will help the Satellite Applications Catapult investigate programme enablers and accelerators for the development of new sustainable energy technology from space.

The total project value is £620k, funded by a £465k grant from the UK Space Agency and a further contribution from the Satellite Applications Catapult of £155k.