space satellite

Space-based solar power and weather monitoring sensors get £3m funding boost

The government is making £3m of grant funding available for space-based solar power (SBSP) projects that collect the Sun’s energy using solar panels orbiting the Earth and can deliver clean energy, day and night, unaffected by the weather.

According to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the new space technologies could help to cut carbon emissions, improve energy security and enhance the UK’s reputation as a science superpower.

It has the potential to boost energy security by providing reliable, affordable alternatives to expensive and volatile fossil fuels, while reducing the UK’s contributions to climate change.

Grant funding will also be made available for cutting-edge weather monitoring sensors to aid more accurate weather forecasts. The sensors will be put into orbit for the first time, thanks to a partnership with data and analytics company Spire Global.

The Hyperspectral Microwave Sounder (HYMS) will help meteorological agencies and businesses around the world involved with planning, shipping and flood warnings. It is four times more powerful than the sensors used on existing satellites.

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris is being appointed as the National Space Champion – a newly created role. He will be tasked with working with the industry to ensure the UK’s space sector continues to grow, attract investment, and develop innovative products.

“The UK space sector is fast becoming a world leader and I look forward to being a champion for the industry within government to ensure we are able to spearhead the industry to even further growth,” he said.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Space-based solar power could provide an affordable, clean and reliable source of energy for the whole world to benefit from, helping the move away from expensive fossil fuels. Today’s investment is an exciting example of how we can go even further in our ambitions to make the UK a science superpower.

“I am also delighted that the HYMS technology, developed in Oxfordshire, will be put into service by Spire Global to help improve weather forecasting.

“These projects are major milestones for our National Space Strategy, developing the UK’s space capabilities while boosting the economy and delivering high-skill jobs.”

The UK space sector employs around 47,000 people directly around the UK and supports around 190,000 jobs in the supply chain.

The announcement comes days after the UK’s 'biggest space cluster' was formed from a partnership of research institutes and businesses operating in Surrey and Hampshire.

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