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Moon Earth Japan Space

Japanese Firm Proposes Microwave-Linked Solar Plant On the Moon 330

Posted by timothy
from the clean-renewable-lunar-energy dept.
littlesparkvt writes "Harnessing the sun's power is nothing new on Earth, but if a Japanese company has its way, it will build a solar strip across the 11,000 mile Lunar equator that could supply our world with clean and unlimited solar energy for generations." Some of the company's other projects look just as ambitious.
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Japanese Firm Proposes Microwave-Linked Solar Plant On the Moon

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  • 11000 miles? (Score:5, Informative)

    by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @07:24PM (#46319489)
    The Lunar equator is 11,000 Kilometers long.
    • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@jwsmyth ... minus physicist> on Sunday February 23, 2014 @09:02PM (#46319983) Homepage Journal

      Miles, kilometers, what's it matter. It's not rocket science... ... oh ...

      • That's no moon. It's a space station...

        • by JWSmythe (446288)

          No, it's ... Oh, ok, it is. The only difference between this and a Death Star is the crunchy center, and a lack of soldiers in white uniforms that can't shoot straight.

          I don't think it would ever be built, simply because it's exactly a space based weapon. Aim the beam at a receiving station, and everything is fine. Aim it at a major city, and ... well, it won't go very well for anyone there. They say 2 technologies, laser and microwave. We know what happens to things in a residentia

    • Re:11000 miles? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23, 2014 @09:35PM (#46320133)

      Yes, I don't however see any data on their website about how wide they are planning to build the ring out. If their graphical renderings are accurate, they display a 195 pixel moon with a 22 pixel ring. Given that google tells me the moon's radius is 1737 km, that means the ring should be about 200 km wide.

      So considering that we have a 11,000 km ring that is 200 km width, the power generation for the light-facing half should be what you'd expect from 5500km x 200km or 1,100,000 square kilometers. I've seen estimates of 1.2 mw per square km for solar [youthkiawaaz.com]. Using that as a basis we'd expect 1,320,000 mw of constant power generation. Wikipedia says to take off 10% due to conversion inefficiencies of microwave transmission of electricity [wikipedia.org] and we probably should take off another 5% or so for weather and atmospheric disruptions or inefficiencies. That leaves us with 1,122,000 mw of constant power.

      As a point of comparison, all the wind power in the entire world added up to 238,351 megawatts in 2011 [wikipedia.org], so it is roughly five times the capacity of that. However, in 2008 the world had an average power consumption rate of 15 terawatts [californiaphoton.com]. 1,122,000 mw is 1.12 terawatts, so this project could supply roughly 7% of the worlds electricity if it was operational today.

      The moon has an area of 37,932,000 square km though, so if we coated the entire moon and got energy from the sunny side and do the same math we get 19.34 terrawats. So, at our current state of energy usage it could power the world if we coated the moon in solar panels.

      I'm not sure about the aesthetics of it though, a racing stripe on the moon.

      • Re:11000 miles? (Score:5, Informative)

        by wagnerrp (1305589) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @10:30PM (#46320395)

        I've seen estimates of 1.2 mw per square km for solar

        I wouldn't trust that estimate. That's all of 1.2W/m^2. Solar radiation at our average orbit is more than 1000x that. Silicon and GaAs panels would be 200-300W/m^2. Even thin film panels should be in the several tens of watts. Remember, there's no atmospheric dissipation, nor any issues with weather. All you have to worry about are eclipses, micrometeorite damage, and radiation damage. Better have enough storage capacity to hold you over during those eclipses.

        • Re:11000 miles? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Penguinisto (415985) on Monday February 24, 2014 @12:33AM (#46321085) Journal

          Consider that a typical top-end solar panel can get 255 Wp [solarworld-usa.com] (Wp = Watts at Peak) for a panel. The referenced panel holds 60 156x156mm monocrystalline polysilicon cells, totaling about 1.4602m^2 , or roughly 174.6Wp/m^2

          1,100,000 km^2 (from above) comes to 192 terawatts of electricity under ideal lab conditions.

          Now, that's before we cut it in half (because half the moon will be in darkness), lop off 20% for losses and partially-shady cells (due to angle, not obstacles), and we get ~77.8 terawatts. Oh, and there's one more trick: heat. Heat causes inefficiencies in a solar cell, though a design with radiators on the shady side of the panel can alleviate that fairly well (they do this in space-bound solar panels all the time).

          But yeah, overall under *ideal* industrial conditions, we can probably expect a WAG of about 50-60 terawatts (assuming busted cells, maintenance periods, imperfect QA during manufacture, whatever.)

          • PS: I totally forgot to figure down the outage during a lunar eclipse...

            • What is with people and lunar eclipses???

              We have had ~20 lunar eclipses so far this century. for a total of about 15 hours of total eclipse (four or five times that of partial eclipse).

              So, 14 years at 8766 hours per year is 122724 hours, less the (worst case assumption - a partial hour is a total loss of power) 90 hours (worst case) of eclipse, means we've lost a potential 0.075% of the total to eclipses.

              A slightly more reasonable assumption is 52 hours lost in that time, or 0.04% of our power.

            • by AC-x (735297)

              I'd imagine it would be easier to have large power storage facilities at the receiving stations on Earth than to set up the long-range energy transmission system required to pipe all the electricity from the moon-facing side of Earth to the other side anyway.

        • The factoid I remember (from I don't know where) is that 400x400 miles of "off the shelf photovoltaics" in the Arizona desert would provide enough electricity to cover the entire planet's current consumption (neglecting transmittion loss and other practicalities of having it all in one place).
          • by ai4px (1244212)
            I've often thought about that.... we have 3 major desert areas on earth... each about 120 apart... The American southwest, Australian outback and the Sahara. If we built a solar station on each of these three deserts, at any time, two would be producing power. A DC intercontinental power grid and we'd solve our energy problems.
      • Unit error (Score:5, Informative)

        by amaurea (2900163) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:59AM (#46321791) Homepage

        You got your units wrong here, I'm afraid. The source you are referring to is not speaking about 1.2 MW per square km. It is speaking about 1.2 MW per km of road. Roads are pretty thin, so installing solar panels along them does not result in many square kilometers per km.

        This mistake leads to your result being off by a huge amount. The solar constant is 1.361 GW per square km. Normally this is reduced by 30% by the atmosphere, but that does not apply in space. Neither are there clouds to worry about, so we can pretty much use this number directly, after dividing by pi to account for the lunar day/night cycle, giving us about 0.45 GW per square km. High-end satellite solar cells get up to 29% efficiency. Using that, we get 0.13 GW per square km. With an area of 11,000 km by 200 km = 2.2 million square km (we have already taken the night into account in our numbers), that results in a total production of 286 TW, which is 19 times the world's current total energy use. Of course, one has to get this energy down to earth somehow too. This seems to have an efficiency of about 85% (possibly squared - unclear) [wikipedia.org]. That partially negates the advantage of being outside the atmosphere, but we still end up receiving 206-243 TW.

        So no, the main objection to this plan isn't that there wouldn't be enough energy available. It is how much resources would be spent making it. I think one will need some sort of self-replicating solar-cell-producing robot on the moon to avoid this requiring too many launches. But I have not read the tehcnical details of their plan.

    • Moon Ring Math (Score:3, Interesting)

      by neoshroom (324937)
      Yes, I don't however see any data on their website about how wide they are planning to build the ring out. If their graphical renderings are accurate, they display a 195 pixel moon with a 22 pixel ring. Given that google tells me the moon's radius is 1737 km, that means the ring should be about 200 km wide.

      So considering that we have a 11,000 km ring that is 200 km width, the power generation for the light-facing half should be what you'd expect from 5500km x 200km or 1,100,000 square kilometers. I've se [slashdot.org]
  • by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @07:25PM (#46319493)

    Collect massive amounts of power, and beam it towards a planet. What could possibly go wrong?

    In a surprise vote at the UN, the General Assembly accepted a proposal from Krasnovia to rename the planet. The new name is "Alderaan."

    • by Cryacin (657549)
      I suspect it would be more like sim city's microwave receivers. A few buildings getting a little glow in the dark is hardly an Alderaan. Leave that one to the Chinese!
    • Collect massive amounts of power, and beam it towards a planet. What could possibly go wrong?

      If you think people are nuts about global warming now...

      • Collect massive amounts of power, and beam it towards a planet. What could possibly go wrong?

        If you think people are nuts about global warming now...

        Global warming is not caused by adding heat, but by changing the rate of heating, or dh/dt.
        Putting solar panels on the moon seems silly. They would collect twice the energy if they were placed in orbit. According to TFA, the materials would come from earth, so why go to extra effort to take them down to the lunar surface, halving their effectiveness? Also, what happens when there is a lunar eclipse?

        • by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @08:30PM (#46319821)

          Also, what happens when there is a lunar eclipse?

          Not much, in North Korea [yahoo.com].

        • They would collect twice the energy if they were placed in orbit.

          Why? They would be outside the atmosphere in both scenarios.

          Of course, the moon seems ridiculously more expensive, but whatever.

          • by quenda (644621)

            They would collect twice the energy if they were placed in orbit.

            Why? They would be outside the atmosphere in both scenarios.

            In orbit, you don't have a big rock blocking the sunlight half the time.

          • by icebike (68054) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @09:05PM (#46319999)

            They would collect twice the energy if they were placed in orbit.

            Why? They would be outside the atmosphere in both scenarios.

            The 11000 KM in the article referred to the circumference of the moon. The (harebrained) scheme postulates
            putting the photoarray entirely around the moon at its equator (on the surface).

            Only half of that circumference is facing the sun at any given time.
            Only about 2/3s of that half would have anything near an optimal angle to the sun.

            By placing steerable arrays in earth orbit, you gain the ability to keep ALL of them always angle toward the sun.

            • by AK Marc (707885)
              So what orbital pattern results in the Earth never eclipsing the sun?
              • So what orbital pattern results in the Earth never eclipsing the sun?

                It doesn't matter. If you have a thousand orbiting panels, and ONE is blocked by the sun, then you still get 99.9% of your power. But if you put them ALL on the moon, then during a lunar eclipse, you get close to 0%. Which means it cannot be used for base load power. Putting the panels on the moon makes no sense at all.

              • by icebike (68054)

                Tom Clancy won a Nobel price in physics once by having a satellite in a geostationary orbit over the north pole.

          • by suutar (1860506)
            I think his theory is that at any time, only half of the moon is in sunshine, whereas if the panels were in orbit they could be placed to always be in sunshine. It seems to me that having them on the moon might (emphasis on might) make maintenance somewhat easier, and as long as there's enough panel area in the lit half, it's good enough, but as he says paying for both a lit half and an unlit half adds up.
            • Why would anyone put solar panels on the dark side of the moon?
              • by Nivag064 (904744)

                Hmm...

                Probably because it is not so hot to put them down in the dark???

                Or perhaps you don't realize that the Moon rotates with respect to the Sun, so no part of the equator is in permanent darkness, except perhaps things like very deep craters.

            • nevermind, I just realized I wasn't thinking
              • by AK Marc (707885)
                Not your fault, people use the wrong word for it. The dark side is light as much as the light side. The moon is tidally locked to the Earth, not the sun. "dark" would imply the reverse.
              • by mmell (832646)
                "There is no dark side of the moon. Really. Actually, it's all dark."
        • by gd2shoe (747932)

          Really...?

          First, I'm not sure what to think about the climate change political debate (which has so thoroughly obscured good science through funding bias - in both directions - and social pressure as to make actual scientific discussion practically impossible). So I'm only going to parrot for a bit.

          It is all about heat, both change AND absolute. The planet is a complex system that deals with fluctuating carbon quite nicely. But those subsystems only operate well at particular temperatures. As the absolu

        • They would collect twice the energy if they were placed in orbit. According to TFA, the materials would come from earth, so why go to extra effort to take them down to the lunar surface, halving their effectiveness?

          More like three times as effective in orbit.

          On the other hand, once you get reach the point of making the structural elements from lunar aluminium, you reduce the amount of material to be lifted from Earth.

          Also, what happens when there is a lunar eclipse?

          Not much. A couple hours every few ye

        • by Immerman (2627577) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @08:58PM (#46319955)

          I think the article is mistaken, or at least very, very badly phrased. Perhaps "Earthly materials" was a mistranslation of "common materials"? Even TFA says water won't be taken to the moon for construction, instead only hydrogen which will be reacted with lunar oxygen to produce water. And if they need water for construction... well presumably they're talking full on manufacturing. The video offers no useful insights either.

          Right on with the global warming bit - for (minimal) added reference I tracked down the numbers a while back, and IIRC the incremental greenhouse effect of one year's fossil fuel CO2 emissions is responsible for trapping something like millions of times as much energy as was contained in the fuel. And that's just in the first year, it will continue to do the same for many decades to come until eventually recaptured by the carbon cycle.

        • Putting solar panels on the moon seems silly. They would collect twice the energy if they were placed in orbit.

          I'm not sure about the factor of 2. In earth orbit, you'd still have at least some satellites being eclipsed by the earth on a regular basis.

          Perhaps it's better to put them at earth-sun lagrangian points. [wikipedia.org] They'd still be eclipsed by the moon occasionally, but only parts of the earth would be blocked at any moment during the event. Of course, you'd need to burn more fuel to get there, and additional fuel consumption to maintain the lagrangian orbits would cut down on the useful lifetime of the satellites.

        • by AK Marc (707885)

          Putting solar panels on the moon seems silly. They would collect twice the energy if they were placed in orbit.

          Why is that? The moon has no atmosphere to get in the way.

          According to TFA, the materials would come from earth,

          The article is wrong and contradicts the official materials by the company in question.

          Also, what happens when there is a lunar eclipse?

          Power output will be lower for a few hours every 6 months or so. Doesn't sound like a big issue.

  • ..They become Shimizu's Dream corporation staffers.
  • by Buck Feta (3531099) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @07:35PM (#46319541)
    s/Timely/oldAsFuck/. Hilarious when Huffington Post beats Slashdot to a story [huffingtonpost.co.uk] by two and a half months.
  • by hawguy (1600213) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @07:37PM (#46319551)

    Solar insolation on the moon is not dramatically higher than on Earth - around 1400 W/m^2 versus around 1000 W/m^2 on Earth. Granted, a Lunar solar station wouldn't be affected by weather, but Earth based receivers will suffer from efficiency loss during bad weather.

    Could they achieve the same result by building a bit larger system on earth, but without the hundreds (or thousands?) of rocket launches it would take to get the materials to the moon to get the thing started?

    Besides, who wants to see a big black ribbon around the moon?

    • by cnettel (836611)

      Solar insolation on the moon is not dramatically higher than on Earth - around 1400 W/m^2 versus around 1000 W/m^2 on Earth. Granted, a Lunar solar station wouldn't be affected by weather, but Earth based receivers will suffer from efficiency loss during bad weather.

      Could they achieve the same result by building a bit larger system on earth, but without the hundreds (or thousands?) of rocket launches it would take to get the materials to the moon to get the thing started?

      Besides, who wants to see a big black ribbon around the moon?

      They plan to use lunar materials, so no hundresds of rocket launches to get started. I guess the point is kind of that real estate and raw materials are "free", if you get the proper manufacturing equipment up there. If that equipment is automated enough, you can build up slowly, but steadily.

      • I think you are under estimating the amount of machinery it takes to turn a mountain of rock, dirt, and minerals into a field of solar panels. The infrastructure required for that would likely eclipse the 11,000 KM stripe of solar panels.
        If you wanted to manufacture sophisticated stuff like that on the moon, you would need it to be as the last step of a 200 year plan to start mining/industry/living on the moon.

        • If you wanted to manufacture sophisticated stuff like that on the moon, you would need it to be as the last step of a 200 year plan to start mining/industry/living on the moon.

          Let's do THAT. And build the world-girdling strip of solar panels, all tied together with superconductors (easy to use, on the Moon), and use that power on the Moon for the burdgeoning civilization we're building there. Forget beaming it at Earth.

          • The "burgeneoning civilization" on the moon includes a bunch of junk from the 1970s, a few crashed probes and a half functioning Chinese probe who's largest scientific advance has been to tweet badly translated anthropomorphic homilies.

            We have yet to manufacture a condom on the moon, much less complex semiconductor devices.

          • by pepty (1976012)
            If we are going to dream big: build a space elevator, space fountain, or a launch loop first. After the cost of getting something into orbit drops by several orders of magnitude everything else gets easier.
      • by hawguy (1600213)

        Solar insolation on the moon is not dramatically higher than on Earth - around 1400 W/m^2 versus around 1000 W/m^2 on Earth. Granted, a Lunar solar station wouldn't be affected by weather, but Earth based receivers will suffer from efficiency loss during bad weather.

        Could they achieve the same result by building a bit larger system on earth, but without the hundreds (or thousands?) of rocket launches it would take to get the materials to the moon to get the thing started?

        Besides, who wants to see a big black ribbon around the moon?

        They plan to use lunar materials, so no hundresds of rocket launches to get started. I guess the point is kind of that real estate and raw materials are "free", if you get the proper manufacturing equipment up there. If that equipment is automated enough, you can build up slowly, but steadily.

        That's why I started at the low end of "hundreds of launches" -- if raw materials were needed, launches would be in the many thousands or tens of thousands. Unless aliens left us a manufacturing plant on the moon when they buried the monolith [youtube.com], it's going to take a lot of equipment to get started.

        Construction of the ISS required over 40 assembly launches. [seds.org]. And those launches were all to LEO which allows much bigger payloads than launching to the moon.

        Perhaps the future will bring more efficient ways to get

    • Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]
      The US contractors and gov spend time and treasure looking at different forms energy over distance in space.
      Something very expected happens over distance to all that power, then add in the earths weather and you have non trivial issues.
      Add ever more power or lasers or wavelengths... it all drops off fast but finding out just how and by how much can be a wonderful boondoggle.
      Interaction of multiple lasers, different rays, microwav
  • Some of the company's other projects look just as luicrous.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @07:44PM (#46319593) Homepage

    A major issue is that the moon is fairly far up Earth's gravity well. It is easy to get things to low-Earth orbit and already tough to get things to even geo-stationary. The main saving of putting anything on the moon will come if you can do a large part of your construction on-site since otherwise moving that much material up is going to be tough. If you are doing automated construction on site you also are going to need to be able to make mainly a lot of solar cells. Solar cells are primarily silicon and there's already been prior research on refining the moon's regolith for silicon to manufacture electronic components and that looks possibly doable but one does need to get over some technical chemistry issues. See e.g. http://www.asi.org/adb/02/13/02/silicon-production.html [asi.org].

    The other issue is distance for power transmission: most designs for microwave power involve power transmission from at most a little over geo-stat at about 35,000 km. The distance to the moon is about 10 times that, so if you don't have a really tight beam, there are going to be issues. Also, since the moon change's position you are going to need a large number of sites on Earth that can receive the beam, and if you can't switch off smoothly between them always (which would itself require massive planet-wide infrastructure), you would still need power sources on Earth (possibly just massive storage facilities?) to deal with those times.

    Overall, a really cool idea with a lot of technical hurdles. I hope they can make it work but I'm not optimistic.

    • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
      Ok. I just looked at their plan in more detail (that is read all of TFA). They are planning on getting the solar panels and most other infrastructure from Earth. That means massive costs in terms of riding up the gravity well. This makes their plan look extremely implausible.
      • by cnettel (836611)
        Go to the company website instead. They say lunar resources and are able to tell the difference between kms and miles. However, it's all a bit pie in the sky even there. Even with the advantage of lunar resources, I would be more optimistic about geostationary orbital solar power. Microgravity would mean that you could get away with really thin structures, even concentrated thermal solar might make sense if you can work out a reasonable cooling part of the cycle (just make an extremely thin mirror as the bu
        • by Immerman (2627577)

          I suspect cooling would be a much larger challenge on the moon - no fluids to transport environmental heat away, so you're limited to dumping it into the rock (how fast can heat conduct through lunar rock?) or radiating into space. Plus the whole "moving parts need maintenance" issue is going to be a lot harder to deal with on the moon.

          The concentrated solar is a good idea though, no reason it couldn't be combined with photovoltaics instead. With no winds to deal with you could potentially just use a thin

        • Don't you all think this is a bit premature? We haven't built anything on the moon. The closest we've come is a giant multigoverment, multidecade effort to keep a bunch of cylinders in low earth orbit. We've managed to grow a few beans and worms, but haven't even assembled a Heath kit in orbit.

          Doesn't seem very plausible to expect a company with unknown funding and absolutely no real world experience to run rings around everyone else's best efforts.

    • Also, since the moon change's position you are going to need a large number of sites on Earth that can receive the beam, and if you can't switch off smoothly between them always (which would itself require massive planet-wide infrastructure), you would still need power sources on Earth (possibly just massive storage facilities?) to deal with those times.

      That is funny. If you have massive storage facilities, preferably extremely cheap and relatively innocuous to the environment, then you've solved the whole electrical power problem already. Current wind and solar generation are atrocious because of the lack of such storage.

    • It is easy to get things to low-Earth orbit and already tough to get things to even geo-stationary.

      Note that, excluding the landing part, it takes about 10% more deltaV to reach lunar orbit than to reach geosynch orbit.

      • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
        That's a good point, so from a strict get-there-once attitude this won't be so bad. However, I don't think that slamming into the moon is going to be a good strategy here unless they used some sort of extremely robust system which would create its own problems.
  • i feel that my proposal is just as likely to become a reality be it a good idea or not

  • Microwave power plant on the moon?

    What's next, giant energy beam cannon powered by said power plant?

  • Perhaps they should focus on one incredibly ambitions plan instead of eight separate ones. I'm also a bit curious how big the receivers would have to be earthside to collect the beamed energy. I don't know if they've invented the microwave equivalent of a laser which is probably what would be needed to to keep the receivers less than 20 miles wide.

    • I don't know if they've invented the microwave equivalent of a laser...

      As it so happens, the maser [wikipedia.org] was invented several years before the laser, and the laser was originally called an "optical maser."
  • Whether it's specifically THIS project, or another.

    Whether it's The Japanese or someone else.

    The incentive to achieve this is too unavoidable.

    Why? (I hear you ask)

    Because the distinction between a targetable multi-terawatt laser and an eco-friendly solar-power downlink is mythical (legal, at best).
    So Japan can bypass (simultaneously, no less) their own constitutional ban on militarisation AND the internal treaty against "space weapons".
  • I'm sure they will do this as soon as a space elevator becomes available. I probably wouldn't hold my breath.
  • William Atherton better have his home insurance paid up.

  • But with them off nukes cost less and give off more power.

  • Guess they never played SimCity...

  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Sunday February 23, 2014 @08:59PM (#46319967) Homepage Journal
    Actually, lunar-based solar power for Earth is decades old, and was first patented [google.com] by Dr. David R. Criswell [lunarsolarpower.org] in the late 80s. I was working for Dr. Criswell at the California Space Institute in La Jolla in 1985 while he was developing this idea so I know it goes back at least to the mid 80s.

    Shimizu Corporation intersects with Dr. Criswell in another way that I just discovered today after searching for his more recent patents.

    We've got to attract technological civilization's population away from natural ecosystems into idealized artificial environments such as Shimizu Corporation's design for what it calls the "Green Float" [shimz.co.jp]. You can house the entire population of civilization in beach-front property on the boundary of a tropical rain forest where people can swim, fish, hunt and gather recreationally, as well as access the height of urban lifestyle. From there space habitats are likely to emerge so that the natural propensity of these "cells" to replicate endlessly needn't destroy Earth's biosphere. Interestingly, I came up with a geometry that looks very similar to that years ago, with the Solar Updraft Tower Algae Biosphere proforma [oocities.org] and, over the subsequent years, I found a floating photobioreactor technology that requires little more than 2 layers of polyfilm that has demonstrated production per cost figures far in excess of what I projected in that proforma. Before I ran across Shimizu Corp's Green Float I had further refined the idea based on the Atmospheric Vortex Engine [blogspot.com], which, like Shimizu's "Green Float", is ideally sited in the equatorial doldrums and could make use of the central tower of the Green Float. I posted some preliminary thoughts over at the Seastead Institute's blog [seasteading.org].

    A key problem I attempted to address in my preliminary thoughts was the early market for energy from the Atmospheric Vortex Engines that would form the nuclei for Shimizu's Green Floats. A big problem was the fact that the electric power markets are thousands of miles away from the floating AVEs even if you could build on the order of a terawatt of oceanic power transmission lines thousands of miles long. Early markets are critical for attracting capital -- the lack of which renders such grandiose ideas "non-starters".

    I had thought it would be very nice to have a microwave transmission technology that could dynamically switch the power distribution to achieve the holy grail of "dispatchable [wikipedia.org]" power generation for peak loads, but wasn't aware, until just now, that Dr. Criswell's recent revision of his patent [google.com] serves precisely that purpose.

  • Here's the math:

    http://matter2energy.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/the-maury-equation/

    and:

    http://matter2energy.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/the-maury-equation-redux/

    The long and short of it is that any soft of SBSP loses about 1/2 of the power during transmission and grid conversion. There's no way around this, it's basic radio physics.

    So to make it work in your favour, you need to generation at *least* twice as much energy. And that's assuming your shipping costs are zero.

    An SPS in GEO *might* be able to do that. That's because they get about five times as much light as a panel on the earth - day/night, clouds, cosine angles, etc.

    But on the moon you have the same sorts of effects as the earth, with the exception of weather. The panels will cycle under the sun as the moon rotates, and spend half their time on the night side.

    There is absolutely no way such a system can make up for the losses in transmission. Period. Do the math yourself if you don't believe me.

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