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Enhancing Global Clean Energy Services Using Orbiting Solar Reflectors

Project description

Ultra-lightweight orbiting solar reflectors for enhanced global clean energy services

Providing clean energy services is a major engineering challenge for the current century. The EU-funded SOLSPACE project therefore aims to develop and demonstrate a novel strategy to improve the delivery of global clean energy services. It will achieve this through the use of ultra-lightweight orbiting solar reflectors. A constellation of reflectors will illuminate large terrestrial solar power plants, focusing on the times of day when output is low but electricity demand and spot prices are high. By demonstrating the opportunities provided by orbiting solar reflectors, the project will play a role in accelerating the use of global clean energy services in the 21st century.


The delivery of global clean energy services is arguably the preeminent engineering grand challenge for the 21st century. Indeed, it is clear that the unprecedented scale and pace of this challenge will require daring and disruptive new thinking. This project will devise, develop and demonstrate an adventurous strategy to enhance the delivery of global clean energy services using ultra-lightweight orbiting solar reflectors. The strategy will utilise a constellation of reflectors to illuminate large terrestrial solar power plants, particularly at dawn and dusk, when their output is low but electricity demand and spot prices are high.

First, we will devise new families of orbits for constellations of reflectors by leveraging solar radiation pressure perturbations. Then, we will develop novel pointing and attitude control strategies by integrating actuators into the structure and membrane of the reflectors themselves. As a key breakthrough, we will devise and demonstrate in the laboratory new processes to enable the automated in-orbit fabrication of large gossamer reflectors. This will overcome the launch vehicle vibration loads imposed on deployable reflectors and payload faring volume constraints. In parallel, impacts on the global energy economy will be assessed and optimised, as will issues such as the suppression of stray light, policy and regulation.

The overarching goal of the project is to demonstrate, in simulation and hardware, the immense opportunities of utilising orbiting solar reflectors to accelerate the delivery of global clean energy services into the 21st century. Such technology represents a step-change for the space sector, from the delivery of information-based data services to the delivery of physical resources. Importantly, it represents an opportunity to demonstrate bold and imaginative new ways of meeting the energy grand challenges of the future.


Net EU contribution
€ 2 496 392,00
University avenue
G12 8QQ Glasgow
United Kingdom

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Scotland West Central Scotland Glasgow City
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)