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April 10, 2024
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Corio Generation and bp Alternative Energy Investment Ltd invest in South Korea Australia missing climate targets Advocating for US based offshore wind Broken Record, Temperatures hit new highs, yet world fails to cut emissions (again) Toshiba and GE to shore up Japanese offshore wind domestic supply chain How I got here… National University of Singapore green finance academic Sumit Agarwal Multi-billion-dollar renewables project earmarked for Yindjibarndi native title land Smart Energy Finances: Enel divests 50% of Australian renewable operations to Japanese oil and gas giant Critical minerals investments surged by 30% finds IEA Kung Fu nuns fight climate change One of Southeast Asia’s largest energy storage systems comes online Why turning waste into gas will add value to this Indigenous economy Renewable energy records tumble around Australia as rooftop solar power soars Topsoe supports SGP BioEnergy in renewable fuels production in Panama ‘Poor tropical regions’ suffer greatest economic damage from worsening heatwaves UNEP: Meeting global climate goals now requires ‘rapid transformation of societies’ Analysis: Africa’s unreported extreme weather in 2022 and climate change Partly wind-powered coal ship sails into Newcastle New fossil fuels ‘incompatible’ with 1.5C goal, comprehensive analysis finds Australian offshore wind ‘supercharged’ in Victoria as billions pledged to fast-track projects Goldwind turbine ‘breaks world record for largest rotor diameter’, Chinese media reports BW Ideol to work with developer Taiya on Taiwan floating wind pilot US to boost floating wind power Wind Power in South Korea – an overview GS E&C to develop bioethanol using cassava waste Korean business group has asked the US to make exceptions for Korean EV’s in Inflation Reduction Act Equinor’s Australian offshore wind debut Global energy transition stalls – 2022 Global Status Report in pictures India’s ReNew Power secures $1bn loan for gigascale 24/7 wind-solar-battery project POSCO International to merge with POSCO Energy

Ed’s note: Space, the final frontier


Last week marked a few milestones in space exploration. Michael Collins, the pilot of the Apollo 11 command module, which took Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon for a first stroll, passed away last Wednesday.

Moreover, it was announced that a record of $8.7 billion was raised by venture capitalists last year, in order to support companies venturing into commercial opportunities from space. Like France’s Eutelsat that invested $550 million in Tesla’s rival, satellite startup OneWeb.

And last, but certainly not least, China launched the first part of its space station, which is expected to be fully operational by 2022. Why do we care, you ask? Because when it comes to energy, space might well be the final frontier (to paraphrase Star Trek’s Captain Kirk).

Have you read?
Powering a Moon village

According to a UN report, even by growing at a slower pace than now, the world population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. That is the same year that the EU aims to be climate neutral and enjoy an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. I am, of course, referring to the Green Deal and the Paris Agreement.

Given the fact that we still produce about 60% of our electricity by fossil fuels, such a growth in the Earth’s population sounds scary. And this is also where space comes into play. China has already declared that one of the missions of its space station will be to deliver electricity as soon as 2030. The idea is to create a solar panel station that will absorb the sun’s power 24 hours a day and nearly every day, which means almost continuous power generation.

Indeed, a researcher from the China Academy of Space Technology Corporation, Pang Zhihao, said, according to the US media, a space solar power station held the promise of providing “an inexhaustible source of clean energy for humans”. Can you imagine the potential? Electric cars charged at any time and place. Support for our energy needs on a daily basis regardless of weather conditions. And of course, in a clean, net-zero way.

It does sound like Sci-fi, also given the fact that writer Isaac Asimov is credited with the idea of space-based solar power projects since 1941 (that’s the year he wrote his short story Reason that explores the topic). However, it is not.

Space-based solar power (SBSP) is not a new idea and it involves collecting the sun’s energy while in space and wirelessly transmitting it back to Earth. The SBSP tech uses “solar panels to collect solar energy in space with reflectors of inflatable mirrors that direct solar radiation onto solar panels and then beaming it on Earth through a microwave or laser. The energy is then received on Earth via a microwave antenna” according to a blog post on the website Greenmatch.

And it seems like the Chinese scientists are determined to prove the technology right. Between 2021 and 2025, according to an article from The Sydney Morning Herald, they first plan to build small and medium-sized solar power stations and subsequently launch them to the stratosphere to generate electricity. And the next step is to build a Megawatt level space solar power station by 2030. Thus, probably becoming the first country with an operational solar power station in space that actually produces electricity.

And what exactly is the EU doing on the matter? There are some individual projects, like France’s Eutelsat investment, but nothing anywhere near the Chinese endeavour. This makes me also wonder…  while we, in Europe, argue about which one is the cheapest, safest and cleanest source of renewable energy on Earth (hydrogen, solar, wind, nuclear), did China just changed the game (and its terrain) underneath our noses and is about to leave us all behind? What do you think?

Share your thoughts via editorial@smart-energy.com.


Areti Ntaradimou
Editor, Smart Energy International


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