"Space-based solar power. The stupidest idea ever" said @elonmusk in 2012.
This is the story of beaming power down to earth...
Genius scientists, secret military projects and beyond.
Is it a zero-carbon solution?
Thread below and watch the video for free:
In the early 20th century, Nikola Tesla repeatedly tried to develop wireless power (in the most steampunk sci-fi building ever seen) - Wardenclyffe Tower: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wardencly…
Isaac Asimov imagined space-based solar in his 1941 short story "Reason". His story has humans on-board maintaining the system, waiting for robots take over: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reason_(s…
So is space-based solar power fore-shadowed in sci-fi, only to become reality later on, like Arthur C Clarke's geo-stationary satellites? Or is it a blind alley that will be forgotten with "good enough" ground-based solutions, and (eventually) fusion reactors, if we're lucky?
Space based solar is a technology that @NASA has been developing since the 1970s. Even in 1977, NASA knew we'd need to move from fossil fuels.
Amazing old footage: britishpathe.com/video/VLVACVR2…
In 2013, @elonmusk's argument against space solar was that ground solar will always be cheaper.
In space you have to convert the sunlight to electricity, then to microwaves, beam to earth, then convert back to electricity.
From 43m11s:
John Mankins is a physicist who worked for NASA on many space solar power proposals. He disagrees with @elonmusks's analysis
Karen Jones from @AerospaceCorp sees another future. To begin with, the military use-cases will outweigh the civilian. Because moving diesel to remote war-zones could be replaced by positioning some rectennas, and beaming energy from space
This is Boeing’s X-37B. Controlled by the US Defence department, it’s a top secret, robotic spacecraft that looks like a tiny space shuttle. In 2020 it carried a space-based solar power experiment designed by the US Naval Research Laboratory.
Everyone we spoke to about space based solar power mentioned China. @AJ_FI is a China space expert. He told us that China is conducting low-altitude wireless power tests already, and could demonstrate 1MW of power capacity from low earth orbit by 2030.
But - this is all dependent on large re-usable rockets working in China. Long LeHao is the scientist proposing this for the "Long March 9" rocket. Without this, it's hard to see how Chinese SBSP would happen.
The UK government @beisgovuk recently commissioned a report from @frazer_nash on space solar & Net Zero. The conclusion? (p25) "Space Based Solar Power is technically feasible, economically competitive and well aligned with UK Government priorities." assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/upl…
In the UK, the National Grid's venture investment arm @ngpartners_ are positive about the prospect of space solar. Brian Ryan is their VP of innovation:
So is @elonmusk right?
Is space based solar power #sbsp the stupidest idea ever?
Watch the video and see what you think:

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