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European space chief says continent will lead in space-based solar power

Space-based solar power involves harvesting sunlight from Earth orbit and then beaming it down to the surface where it is needed.

Enlarge / Space-based solar power involves harvesting sunlight from Earth orbit and then beaming it down to the surface where it is needed. (credit: Andreas Treuer/ESA)

Europe is seriously considering developing space-based solar power to increase its energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the leader of the European Space Agency said this week.

“It will be up to Europe, ESA and its Member States to push the envelope of technology to solve one of the most pressing problems for people on Earth of this generation,” said Josef Aschbacher, director general of the space agency, an intergovernmental organization of 22 member states.

Previously the space agency commissioned studies from consulting groups based in the United Kingdom and Germany to assess the costs and benefits of developing space-based solar power. ESA published those studies this week in order to provide technical and programmatic information to policymakers in Europe.

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