Terrestrial solar power plants - Current perspectives and long term visions

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


For terrestrial photovoltaic systems to be viable alternatives to satellite-borne solar generators, two conditions are necessaryLow-cost power generation and low-loss power transmission. This review will deal mainly with the power generation aspect of Very Large Scale terrestrial PV systems, for which it will be argued that system costs of less than $1000/kW may be achievable via the use of concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) technology. Such system costs should be directly competitive with fossil-fuelled ground-based power plants without the need for subsidies. As such, they could be readily integrated into the existing terrestrial grid systems in appropriate parts of the world. Regarding the transmission aspect, technological improvements are to be expected in low-loss long-distance cables - possibly via the discovery of high-temperature superconducting materials. This could enable the creation of a trans-equatorial power grid that, like satellite-borne systems, would ensure that the sun always shines on the generators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)ix-xiii
JournalEuropean Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP
Issue number567
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2004
Event4th International Conference on Solar Power from Space, SPS '04 - Together with The 5th International Conference on Wireless Power Transmission, WPT 5 - Granada, Spain
Duration: 30 Jun 20042 Jul 2004


  • Dish-concentrators
  • Low-cost electricity
  • Photovoltaics
  • Terrestrial solar energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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