Online Journal of Space Communication


Depleting fossil fuel reserves and the tangible impact of climate change have mandated nations to review national energy-mix policies. The Government of India's target of 7% GDP growth rate will require 1,476 GW installed power capacity by 2052. But historical constraints since 1951 on growth of power capacity (like land acquisition, water, fuel supply chains and silting of dams) have limited power capacity growth in India to a maximum 4GW/year. Should these historical constraints continue into the future as "business-as-usual" scenarios, just 472 GW would have been realized by 2052, effectively slowing India's GDP growth rate to 3.5% per annum. Assuming those constraints affect only coal-based thermal power plants and that there will be no constraints to realizing Government targets for nuclear, hydroelectric, wind and solar power capacities, 932 GW might be realizable by 2052, yielding 5.5% GDP growth rate. Even with 5.5% GDP growth, the nation will have to increase annual power capacity from a historical peak of about 4 GW/year to unprecedented levels of 18 GW/year in 2032 and 28 GW/year by 2052.

India's emphasis is now on terrestrial solar power. This type of energy is clean and perennial, although its availability is limited to an average 5.6 hours per day. Solar energy harvested in space is recognized as an always available 24x7 source. For a sustained 7% GDP growth rate targeting 1,476 GW in 2052, and as an "insurance policy" for shortfalls in achieving power capacity growth using terrestrial sources, this paper presents a Space Solar Power profile that increases from 17 GW in 2017 to 544 GW in 2052. This added SSP capacity almost doubles India's per capita GDP, delivering a net GDP benefit to the nation estimated to be worth over $100 trillion. The net carbon avoided by SSP substitution would be about 66 million tonnes, in addition to 9 million tonnes of carbon avoided by the National (200 GW Terrestrial) Solar Power Mission. The technology for building and orbiting space solar power stations is complex and politically sensitive. Some 10-15 years may be required to implement a working system in space. So, the outline of an advanced space transportation system based on two decades of design work on affordable space solar power for India is also briefly described.



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