NSSO 7 (National Security Space Office, Report to the Director, “Space-Based Solar Power As an Opportunity for Strategic Security; Phase 0 Architecture Feasibility Study” October 10, 2007, http://www.nss.org/settlement/ssp/library/final-sbsp-interim-assessment-release-01.pdf)
FINDING:The SBSP Study Group found that industry has stated that the #1 driver and requirement for generating industry interest and investment in developing the initial operational SBSP systems is acquiring an anchor tenant customer, or customers, that are willing to sign contracts for high‐value SBSP services. Industry is particularly interested in the possibility that the DoD might be willing to pay for SBSP services delivered to the warfighter in forward bases in amounts of 5‐50 MWe continuous, at a price of $1 or more per kilowatt‐hour. o Recommendation: The SBSP Study Group recommends that the DoD should immediately conduct a requirements analysis of underlying long‐term DoD demand for secure, reliable, and mobile energy delivery to the war‐fighter, what the DoD might be willing to pay for a SBSP service delivered to the warfighter and under what terms and conditions, and evaluate the appropriateness and effectiveness of various approaches to signing up as an anchor tenant customer of a commercially‐delivered service, such as the NextView acquisition approach pioneered by the National GeoSpatial‐imaging Agency. FINDING: The SBSP Study Group found that even with the DoD as an anchor tenant customer at a price of $1‐2 per kilowatt hour for 5‐50 megawatts continuous power for the warfighter, when considering the risks of implementing a new unproven space technology and other major business risks, the business case for SBSP still does not appear to close in 2007 with current capabilities (primarily launch costs). This study did not have the resources to adequately assess the economic viability of SBSP given current or projected capabilities, and this must be part of any future agenda to further develop this concept. Past investigations of the SBSP concept have indicated that the costs are dominated by costs of installation, which depend on the cost of launch (dollars per kilogram) and assembly and on how light the components can be made (kilograms per kilowatt). Existing launch infrastructure cannot close the business case, and any assessment made based upon new launch vehicles and formats are speculative. Greater clarity and resolution is required to set proper targets for technology development and private capital engagement. Ideally SBSP would want to be cost‐competitive with other baseload suppliers in developing markets which cannot afford to spend a huge portion of their GDP on energy (4c/kWh), and these requirements are extremely stringent, but other niche export markets may provide more relaxed criteria (35c/kWh), and some customers, such as DoD, appear to be spending more than $1/kWh in forward deployed locations. It would be helpful to develop a series of curves which examine technology targets for various markets, in addition to the sensitivities and opportunities for development. Some work by the European Space Agency (ESA) has suggested that in an “apples‐to‐apples” comparison, SBSP may already be competitive with large‐scale terrestrial solar baseload power. A great range of opinions were expressed during the study regarding the near‐term profitability. It is instructive to note that that there are American companies that have or are actively marketed SBSP at home and abroad, while another group feels the technology is sufficiently mature to create a dedicated public‐private partnership based upon the COMSAT model and has authored draft legislation to that effect. • The business case is much more likely to close in the near future if the U.S. Government agrees to: o Sign up as an anchor tenant customer, and o Make appropriate technology investment and risk‐reduction efforts by the U.S. Government, and o Provide appropriate financial incentives to the SBSP industry that are similar to the significant incentives that Federal and State Governments are providing for private industry investments in other clean and renewable power sources. • The business case may close in the near future with appropriate technology investment and risk‐reduction efforts by the U.S. Government, and with appropriate financial incentives to industry. Federal and State Governments are providing significant financial incentives for private industry investments in other clean and renewable power sources. o Recommendation: The SBSP Study Group recommends that in order to reduce risk and to promote development of SBSP, the U.S. Government should increase and acceler
ate its investments in the development and demonstration of key component, subsystem, and system level technologies that will be required for the creation of operational and scalable SBSP systems. Finding: The SBSP Study Group found that a small amount of entry capital by the US Government is likely to catalyze substantially more investment by the private sector. This opinion was expressed many times over from energy and aerospace companies alike. Indeed, there is anecdotal evidence that even the activity of this intermim study has already provoked significant by at least three major aerospace companies. Should the United States put some dollars in for a study or demonstration, it is likely to catalyze significant amounts of internal research and development. Study leaders likewise heard that the DoD could have a catalytic role by sponsoring prizes or signaling its willingness to become the anchor customer for the product.
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