Funding organisation: European Space Agency (ESA)
Duration: November 2003 - February 2004
Contact: Dr. Peter Viebahn
This study has to be understood in the frame of the global Energy Policy. A great part of world energy production is currently based on non-renewable sources: oil, gas and coal. Global warming and restricted fossil energy sources force a strong demand for another climate compatible energy supply. Therefore, fossil energy sources will nearly disappear until the end of this century. The question is to find a viable replacement. By using “viable” it is meant a low-cost and environmental friendly energy. In other words, the question is to find an alternative to nuclear energy among all proposed but still not mature renewable energies.
One of the solutions proposed is solar energy. Yet, two major concerns slow down its development as an alternative: first, it lacks of technological maturity and secondly it suffers from alternating supply during days and nights, winters and summers. The idea proposed by Glaser in the sixties to bypass this inconvenient is to take the energy at the source (or at least, as near as possible): in other words, to put a solar station on orbit that captures the energy without problems of climatic conditions and to redirect it through a beam to the ground. That is the concept of Solar Power Satellites. Its principal feasibility was shown by DOE / NASA in 1970 years studies (5 GW SPS in GEO).
This phase 1 study activity is to be seen as the initial step of a series of investigations on the viability of power generation in space facing towards an European strategy on renewable, CO2 free energy generation, including a technology development roadmap pacing the way to establish in a step-wise approach on energy generation capabilities in space. The entire activity has to be embedded in an international network of competent, experienced partners. As part of this, an interrelationship to and incorporation of activities targeting the aims of the EU 6th FP ESSPERANS should be maintained.
In particular, the activities related to following objectives are described: