The seventh Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 7) aspires to provide humanity with affordable, reliable, sustainable, and contemporary energy. The United Nations established 5 targets and 5 indicators to effectively monitor SDG 7 development. Three of the goals are outcome-aligned, while the other two are methods for reaching them.
The three goal-oriented targets are as follows:
- Universal access to energy that is inexpensive, reliable, and contemporary;
- raise the share of the renewable power in the worldwide energy mix;
- double the worldwide rate of energy efficiency improvement.
The following are two options for reaching these goals:
- Strengthening international collaborations to make renewable energy research, technology, and investment more accessible; and
- Developing nations’ energy services being expanded and upgraded.
Initiatives to promote clean energy around the world
As per a 2019 report from the IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency), the IEA (International Energy Agency), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank and the United Nations Statistics Division, the world is making advancements toward SDG 7 but is going to fall short of achieving the deadlines by 2030 if current progress continues.
In addition, the report notes progress made by some nations, notably in Asia and Africa, in improving access to electricity. As a consequence, the worldwide population without power fell from 1.2 billion in the year 2010 to around 840 million in 2017. The Covid 19 epidemic, on the other hand, is poised to stymie progress toward this objective, since the number of people without access to power is expected to rise in the coming years, driving some nations (particularly in Asia and Africa) further away from meeting the worldwide goal by 2030.
Space technology, notably the GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System), is vital for infrastructure monitoring, particularly in the areas of the global energy network, seismic surveying, power grid synchronization, and determining the best locations for renewable energy generation. In addition, Earth observation satellites can help forecast solar and wind energy production, as well as estimate the quantity of energy required from other sources.
Solar Power from Space
The sun produces more energy every hour than the whole Earth uses in a year. To put that in context, the earth gets 173,000 TWh of power from the sun every hour, whereas humanity spent 160,000 TWh in 2017. Solar energy, without a doubt, is more than adequate to satisfy everyone’s total energy needs. The problem is capturing and conserving it in a cost-efficient manner.
Most solar panels are currently less than 20% efficient, meaning they can only capture roughly 20 percent of the solar energy they are exposed to.
Furthermore, solar energy gathered directly from orbit is 5 times more powerful than solar energy collected on the ground. This is due to several reasons, such as cloud cover, nighttime darkness, filtration of solar light by the atmosphere, and so on. These and other issues necessitate the use of an SBSP (space-based solar power) system. SBSP systems (e.g., powersats) can often receive unlimited solar energy, enabling them to run at peak efficiency for the duration of their design life. Powersats are expected to endure approximately 30 years. The modules lose roughly 18% to 20% of their full design capacity during this time. However, because the powersat is made up of smaller modular solar panels, it is simple to change individual modules if they begin to lose efficiency without incurring a substantial cost.