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Paris, France, Palais du Luxembourg, Friday 21 March 2003

Sunsat Energy Council




Sponsored by

Hon. Christian Poncelet ,
President of the French Senate,

and chaired by

Hon. Claude Gatignol ,
House of Representatives,
Chairman of the Energy Study Group


Hon. Henri Revol ,
French Senate,
Chairman of the Senate Energy Study Group




Salle Monnerville at French Senate (Palais du Luxembourg) :

Representative Claude GATIGNOL (left)

Doctor John MANKINS (center)

Professor Nobuyuki KAYA (right)

Presentation by the Sunsat Energy Council
for the "Energy" Study Groups
of the French Parliament

from left to right :


Nobuyuki KAYA







* Welcome Address by Hon. Claude Gatignol

Presentations coordinated by Mr. Didier Vassaux (Cnes) :

* Integration of SPS into future energy scenarios , by Leopold Summerer (Sunsat, Esa)

* Results from recent Nasa SSP activities , by John Mankins (Sunsat, Nasa)

* Impact of SSP on the greenhouse effect , by Nobuyuki Kaya (Sunsat, University of Kobe)

* Steps towards SSP , by Alain Celeste (Sunsat, University of La Réunion)

* Impact of SSP development for the Industry , by Guy Pignolet (Sunsat, Cnes)

* SSP Functional Demonstration by the team of Lycée Jean-Perrin


The full texts of the presentations made on 21 March 2003 are available on request at : sunsat@grandbassin.net



* Welcome Address by Hon. Claude Gatignol - (full text)



by Hon. Claude Gatignol,

Representative to the French Parliament
Chairman of the Energy Study Group at the House of Representatives
Vice-President of the Parliamentary Office for the Assessment of Scientific and Technology Choices
Member of the Space Study Group of the French Parliament



     To begin with, I would like to thank the persons who have organized this presentation, and to tell you how much pleasure I have to open the session this morning. I am a Representative to this Parliament, I was elected in the Department of La Manche, in Normandy, but it is also especially as a part of my duties of being the Chairman of the Energy Study Group of the House of Representatives that I am now speaking.

     One has to follow one's curiosity and more especially so when it is challenged by some evocation about energy sources. This is what mister Pignolet just succeeded in doing when he came to tell me about Space Solar Power. As a result, I am here today in this room, because is there any subject that would be more original that this one, in the vast problem of the sources of energy. These studies combine all at the same time the attractivity of the field of space activities, that is quite important, and the challenge of collecting solar energy, that remains up to this day a beautiful topic for research and laboratory studies, and of course, the other great mystery of transferring that energy from space to the surface of our terrestrial globe.

     Furthermore, this workshop happens to be, as you know, just after the 18th March, that was the date selected by the Government to initiate a public debate about energy. It was last Tuesday, at City of Sciences, that the Prime Minister, the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Research were present for the kick-off of this major national debate, that will be continued in the Regions in Rennes, Bordeaux, Nice and Strasbourg, and eventually, to conclude, that will return in May in Paris, again at the City of Sciences.

      Therefore, I believe that this workshop, today, is perfectly in tune with the questions that should be asked, that is the questions concerning the energy demand, in any country of course, but also in a wider sense, in any continent, in all of the continents, and the consequences of the use of energy according to its origins, and of course, and this is the political aspect of the questions, the imperative to think for the coming years, the coming decades, and you told us, mister Vassaux, of medium term, or even long term views. This is a question that we must ask ourselves from a political point of view: what may be envisioned for the energies of the future, knowing that three characteristic items should be necessarily present in our reflection, 1) availability, for we know well that development, in all countries, follows closely the curve of energy consumption, and therefore availability, 2) of course, we should not forget competitivity between all these sources of energy, there are several of them, but as well for the industry and for public use, we must achieve costs that are acceptable for such use, and most of all, a third characteristic that is that our society, today, encompasses in this use of energy environment considerations that may be summarized in the well known greenhouse effect. This greenhouse effect, and we now know that it is real, may be measured through the raising average temperature on one hand, but also through its very origins : the proportion of COČ in the atmosphere, that went up from 280 ppm in the 19th century to a current value of 340 ppm. We therefore have an imperative to look for future technologies that will avoid producing COČ.

     Thus, today, what may our friends here have to offer us when they will take the floor in a moment ? All that huge energy, that comes from our solar star, and that is created, we should not forget, through thermonuclear fission - we always have to come back to original sources, even if now we use fission energy - that energy comes to us in the form of light. How can it be used, channeled, offered in the form of electricity, which is a convenient form for delivery to customers ? How far have we gone in investigating this field, where are the hopes that we all may have, to answer our dreams, but also our needs ? This is what we may learn along the morning and I would like to congratulate everyone for making sometimes a long trip here, some of you from Japan, from Kobe, mister Kaya, some of you from the faraway American lands, mister Mankins, and of course, coming from the South, our own far South, those who come from La Réunion, this beautiful island, or also from Holland, mister Summerer of ESA.

     I can notice not only the international diversity and the quality of the speakers, but there are also some persons in this room, mister Pignolet, who have participated in the beginning of this adventure, senior high school students, and especially senior high school students coming from the vocational Jean Perrin High School in Saint André in La Réunion, and I want to congratulate them for their interest in solar energy, and for having actually made, with you, mister Pignolet a number of demonstration elements that are here, and that you will certainly present at some time later today, cheers to you for having engaged in this magnificent endeavor.

     Here we are, I believe it was useful to set the frame for this debate. I will now declare the discussion open, hand out the direction of operations to mister Didier Vassaux, and give the floor to the speakers. I want to thank you for your attention and I shall invite you to remain attentive all along this morning.

     Thank you.




* Integration of SPS into future energy scenarios , by Leopold Summerer (Sunsat, Esa) - (summary)



by Leopold SUMMERER
Advanced Concepts Team, ESA

I. Energy Sources - an Overview
II. Sustainable Energy Scenarios
III. Potentiel Role of SSP






> > >  Electricity and Hydrogen  ! ! !


Conclusions :

* SPS : promising sustainable energy solution for next 50 years

* Alternatives :

.. Nuclear fission and fusion = proliferation, waste
.. Carbon sequestration of coal, oil, gas = intermittent only
.. Terrestrial wind and solar power plants = limited to ~25%

* No real influence on energy market until at least ~2020
 - - Choices already made, SPS concepts/ technology not mature enough

* Considerable influence on possible energy choices for 2030 -- 2050

* Capacity to substitute large portion of coal plants in 2030/ 2050 time frame

* Rapid progress since 30 years
 - - important cost reductions still foreseen



* Results from recent Nasa SSP activities , by John Mankins (Sunsat, Nasa) - (summary)



by John C. MANKINS

Office of Space Flight
NASA Headquarters





      Space Solar Power (SSP) systems are an integral infrastructure element for many potential future ambitious space activities. Since 1995, NASA has conducted conceptual design and analysis of SSP systems and technologies. The most recent study, the SSP Exploratory Research and Technology (SERT) activity, involved an agency wide team with participation from the aerospace industry, the energy sector, other government agencies, universities, and non-profit organizations. Products from the SERT activity include an investment portfolio of SSP technologies, technology development roadmaps, conceptual designs and analysis, technology prototypes, and ground demonstrations. This paper presents some of these results and discusses how SSP will enable ambitious future space activities.



      Recent Space Solar Power (SSP) studies conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) included:

· Fresh Look study from 1995 to 1997
· Concept Definition Study in 1998
· SSP Exploratory Research and Technology (SERT) study from 1999 through 2001.

      Approximately thirty concepts were analyzed during the Fresh Look study. The most promising concept of the group appeared to be the Sun Tower, a fifteen- kilometer gravity gradient configuration using inflatable Fresnel lens concentrators. Variations of the Sun Tower and other concepts were analyzed in the CDS and the SSP management team adopted several ongoing technology development projects across the agency. In 1999, the SERT activity initiated a focused technology research and development program, conducted systems analysis and integration, and developed system demonstrations.

      This paper describes some of the system concepts, technology prototypes, and a summary roadmap for SSP. Additionally, this paper discusses the potential applications of SSP concepts and technologies to Space Manufacturing.


Figure 1 : Integrated Symmetrical Concentrator and Solar Clipper

      Figure 1 depicts two examples two SSP system concepts, the Integrated Symmetrical Concentrator (ISC) and the Solar Clipper. The ISC concept is a 1.2 GW system providing power for terrestrial power grids and a variety of space facilities. The Solar Clipper concept is a Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) based Mars Transfer Vehicle (MTV) that derives from the Sun Tower. Once in orbit around Mars, the Solar Clipper would transmit power to a human colony on the planet's surface.



      Over a 24-month period, a broadly based, well-balanced team conducted system studies and analysis, research and technology development, and ground demonstrations. Elements of the program level Work Break Down (WBS) included :

A.0 Space Solar Power
B.1 Solar Power Generation (SPG)
B.2 Wireless Power Transmission (WPT)
B.3 Power Management and Distribution (PMAD)
B.4 Structures, Materials & Controls
B.5 Thermal Materials and Management
B.6 Robotics Assembly, Maintenance and Servicing
B.7 Platform Systems
B.8 Ground Power Systems
B.9 Earth-to-Orbit Transportation and Infrastructure
B.10 In-Space Transportation and Infrastructure
B.11 Environmental and Safety Factors
B.12 System Integration (Analysis, Engineering, Modeling)
B.13 Applications Studies (Science/Exploration/Commercial)
B.14 Independent Economic and Market Analysis Studies

     The following sections will discuss the approach to system analysis, identify the technologies required by all SSP concepts, and describe technology prototypes for elements B.1 through B.6.




      Emerging Third-World countries, Human space colonies and large-scale space manufacturing facilities will require tremendous amounts of power. To meet these future power demands, concepts within MSC four provide approximately one gigawatt of power. Concepts within MSC four would be power plants in space. A constellation of full-scale SSP satellites in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) would supply customers on Earth and in Space.


Conclusions :

      Large-scale SPS development could enable an energy-rich future in space for science, human exploration, industrialization, settlement, and eventual missions beyond our solar system. Products from SERT such as the portfolio of technology investments, prototypes, demonstrations, conceptual designs, analysis, and roadmaps provide a strategy for developing SSP technologies and systems




* Impact of SSP on the greenhouse effect , by Nobuyuki Kaya (Sunsat, University of Kobe) - (summary)




by Nobuyuki KAYA

University of Kobe (Japan)




1 - The concept of Space Solar Power is simple

      The photovoltaic arrays, the microwave transmitter and the large reflectors are launched into the geosynchronous orbit. The electric energy generated by the photovoltaic arrays on the SPS is converted to microwave, which is transmitted to the receiving antenna and supplied for the ground use. SSP systems will be able to supply more than 1 GW of electricity above to the Earth, which is equivalent to a basic nuclear power station.

     There are three arguments to consider for the environment : .

* One is the COČ emission from the Solar Power Satellite. The COČ emission is a very important factor to evaluate the Solar Power Satellite. These days, the greenhouse effect must be reduced to protect the Earth environment.

* The second is the effect of the high power microwave onto the human bodies. High power microwave is radiated from the Solar Power Satellite. Everybody can associate the high power microwave with the microwave oven, and every time I gave lectures on the Solar Power Satellite, everybody asked me if birds flying through the microwave beam could be "Yakitori-ed" by the microwave just like by the microwave oven. We call the grilled birds "Yakitori", but we should remember the high power microwave is much weaker than the microwave oven, and it cannot grill the flying birds.

* The third point is interference of the high power microwave beam with ionospheric plasma and telecommunications.

CO² Emission from different sources of energy


2 - Research activities in Japan

      We have three space organizations in Japan, one is NASDA, another is ISAS and the last is USEF (Unmanned Space Experiment Free Flyer). NASDA and ISAS belong to the Ministry of Education, while USEF belongs to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). At the present, we have two independent studies on the Space Solar Power by USEF and NASDA. Concerning the research projects, we have many design projects, rocket experiments that I already mentioned, demonstrations on microwave power transmission, estimation of COČ emission and a test of the biological effects of high power microwaves. Concerning of the SPS concepts, we also have many proposals, the SPS-2000 strawman design by ISAS, and also USEF and NASDA concepts and our Sandwich SPS concepts. We have very active research on the development of the technologies and the environmental and economical assessments.

      Microwave power transmission is one of the essential technologies for realization of Space Solar Power. We have performed many experiments and demonstrations to develop the microwave power transmission technology. The first demonstration was an airplane flying by microwave energy transmitted from a car. We made a small radio-controlled model airplane. The car carried a high power microwave transmitter of 1 kW on the roof. The car followed the model airplane while transmitting microwave, with controlled beam direction using phased array antenna technology. The airplane succeeded in flying for 20 seconds with microwaves.

      The next demonstration was to transmit 10 kW high power microwave from the ground toward a small airship. The airship had two propellers to climb and change direction, which were driven by the microwave energy. The transmitter had a parabola antenna with a diameter of 3 m. The picture shows the receiving antennas and the airship driven by microwave power.


WPT experiment with airship


      We are planning a microwave power transmission demonstration on a very long distance in Hawaii, in Maui where there are very high mountains, and in the other big islands. Our plan is to transmit microwave from Mount Haleakala to Mauna Lea at a distance of 120 km, which is a quarter of the distance between the Low Earth Orbit and the ground. We believe this experiment will be of great value for future space power transmission experiments.

The test 120 km WPT project for Hawaii


3 - In summary

      We believe the Solar Power Satellites are one of the very promising energy sources in the future. This recommendation was accepted by the UNISPACE III conference held by United Nation in 1999. As you know, Solar Power Satellites may supply very clean electricity anywhere and anytime in the world. We believe that international collaborations are essential and indispensable to realize the Solar Power Satellites, and we encourage concerned organizations, in the whole world, a) to pursue technical, economical and feasibility studies for SSP, b) to stimulate international cooperation and exchanges concerning SSP, c) to consider seriously SSP for a number of topics, for example in terms of health, environment, electromagnetic spectrum management and frequency allocation, etc…




* Steps towards SSP , by Alain Celeste (Sunsat, University of La Réunion) - (summary)



by Alain CELESTE

Assistant Professor
LGI-ACTES Laboratory
University of La Réunion



Main Issues

      Deployment of a great number of Solar Power Satellites (SPS), in geostationary or geosynchronous orbit, for energy provision at a global scale for use on Earth or in Space, requires a tremendous effort. This particularly requires a careful analysis of the appropriate strategy to be followed in setting up a research and development program based on a series of demonstration stages and the intermediate launch of operational systems. Solar energy is the first and possibly the most important extraterrestrial resource that can be exploited in the near future. The expertise gained along the 40 years of Space activities that men have carried out, must now be put into practice to install the necessary infrastructure that can make exploitation of Space resources possible.

      Many technological advances and breakthrough are still required to allow the realization of SPS themselves, but also of the transportation systems, of the fabrication and exploitation infrastructure that will help in this realization. We give below, as an example, some technological areas that remain challenges that researchers and engineers will have to face in the frame of the SPS development process: - Space Transportation - Wireless Power Transportation - Assembly of large structures in Space (structural and functional elements) - High efficiency solar collectors and converters - Space assembly technologies (material, robotics) - Power and Thermal Management - …

      These technologies will all require important research efforts, but also that in-situ tests are planned to demonstrate and to strengthen the reliance that we can place on these technologies. Furthermore, many different options exist today so as to how SPS deployment should be conducted. Some of these options are basically less energy efficient (usually requiring more material to be launched from Earth to Space). For the others, it is necessary to be able to measure their ability to be setup and ready to operate in the shortest possible time. This presentation only gives a vision of a possible strategy, which aims at demonstrating and illustrating with examples, that extraterrestrial energy resources exploitation is at our reach. This presentation can also help in measuring the effort required along the way. The reference period that this vision is covering goes from today to the year 2050, where it is estimated that a first geostationary Space Power Satellite could be made operational.



Terrestrial Demonstrations

     The strategy proposed in this presentation recommends undertaking technological demonstrations on Earth during the whole reference period. It is also recommended to identify potential applications on Earth of technologies or concepts developed for the SPS. This could benefit the overall project by driving the costs down and motivate the investments.

* Installation of operational WPT terrestrial point to point link in Grand-Bassin : Case studies and recent developments made at the University of La Reunion, together with the sustained commitment of private and governmental organizations can make it possible for an operational WPT system to be installed and economically operated in Grand-Bassin, within the next five years or so. Such an installation could serve both the purposes of delivering electricity to the village and of being used as a test bed for components and sub-systems evaluation in real operating conditions. The Grand-Bassin project should allow for the analysis and testing of environmental integration solutions. It should serve as a test bed for the observation by biologists of the impact that this technology can have on plants and biologic species.

The village of Grand-Bassin


Low Earth Orbit (LEO) or high altitude demonstrations (2005-2015)

* WPT to a high altitude platform (with beam control using coded pilot signal) : Several demonstrations aiming at delivering energy to flying objects using microwave wireless power transportation have already been performed. Most of these demonstrations were conceptually successful in showing the effectiveness of wireless power transportation to a drone or a balloon. However, none of them was sufficiently accomplished technologically to allow for the successful experimentation of reliable beam control strategy or to allow the evaluation of interference with on board telecommunication equipment.



      Thus, many technical points have yet to be demonstrated. This is even more motivated by recent advances made by several firms around the world in the fabrication of stratospheric balloons of large sizes, capable of sustaining a constant position over a point on Earth, at an altitude of 20 km above the Ground. These balloons can easily be built to accommodate a large area of rectenna elements, which will receive energy incident from a projecting station on ground.


Development of Space Industrialization from the Moon (2015-2040)

      Due to the large dimensions of Space Power Satellites, a great number of launches are required to gather around an initial platform a cluster of solar collection and conversion structures, micro-wave converters and projection arrays. The Moon offers an interesting alternate option for the economical production and delivery of large quantities of materials to the SPS assembly site in geostationary orbit.

Development of Moon Industrial Systems


And then we may look to the longer term …

* Industrialization of Space Power Satellites in Geostationary Earth Orbit

* Deployment of Space Solar Power on global scale with SPS in geostationary or geosynchronous orbits

* Space Solar Power for space exploration and space industry

* Exploration and exploitation of asteroid resources

* etc.




* Impact of SSP development for the Industry , by Guy Pignolet (Sunsat, Cnes) - (summary)



by Guy Pignolet de Sainte-Rose

Cnes Engineer
Member of the Board of the Sunsat Energy Council



A Realistic Dream

      Today, SSP remains a dream. Space Solar Power systems are gigantic systems, requiring huge engineering. Operational systems cannot be expected before the middle of the century, and this is a far remote horizon, far too remote for any government to take at this time the slightest decision for a programme, far too remote for any responsible industry to invest today, technically or financially, into serious SSP development. Yet, the SSP dream is realistic.


The defence of Planet Earth

      If we may raise our views above the somewhat disorderly current news, and stand off by a few decades, a span of time that is coherent with the ongoing thinking on SSP, we cannot avoid noticing that our World is in a process of change, rapid change, in many respects that concern the economy and the industry as well as ecology.

      Ecology is the science of structural relations, and it was hardly noticed until the sixties, when enroute lunar probes sent back the first images of the "Blue Planet", our planet. Until then, Humankind was just a great philosophical concept, but these images made it a solid reality. They also made us aware of how fragile our status. In the field of the economy, we have been shifting over the past forty years, at an ever faster pace, from a modern society with a development based on industry to a new world fueled by information. This has many consequences, especially for the Industry, and especially for industry groups of major importance.

     The ways and means of economy are in full transformation all over the planet, old communism is dead, and traditional capitalism is shaky, while real-time data and complex models open roads to new modes of management. We live a crisis, which means, in Edgard Morin's definition, that the divide is deepening between the new reality of the World, and the older operating concepts by which we too often still abide. This makes for difficult times, especially for the Industry, and especially for major industries in the realm of aerospace that are, for most of them, defence industries.


Budgets : Blue = Civilian Space - Red = Civilian Aircraft - Yellow = Defence and Weapons


      In the mist of this somewhat gloomy scenery, SSP systems offer a few prospects for change that will be morally acceptable, with opportunities for a re-deployment of activity compatible with existing technical facilities, within the current economy and political paradigms.


A World Energy Programme

      During the many contacts that the Sunsat Energy Council had over several years with the World Solar Programme of Unesco, a possibility has appeared for a development of SSP beyond the current work on Wireless Power Transportation and the projects for experiments from small platforms in orbit. The further steps in the development process, with large megawatt class technological systems, could be financed through redirection of military funding, within a planetary defence program that would be coordinated at a global level. Such a prospect would offer many opportunities for the industries implied in the process, especially in the realm of space transportation, with much positive impact on the whole of the economy.





* SSP Functional Demonstration by the team of Lycée Jean-Perrin



The functional model : the Sun, a Space Power Satellite, and Planet Earth

     Fifteen students and two teachers from Lycée Jean Perrin have attended the presentation made by the Sunsat Energy Council. They made a demonstration of the prototype of the functional SSP model that they have manufactured in order to facilitate good understanding of the potential of SSP. These models will be promoted and sold in the whole world by the group of students of Lycée Jean Perrin.




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WPT  '01

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Some photos