Japanese firm wants to transform the Moon into a giant solar power plant

Jun 02, 2010 by Lisa Zyga weblog
The Luna Ring: Electric power generated by a belt of solar cells around the lunar equator would be transmitted and beamed to the Earth from the near side of the Moon. Image credit: Shimizu Corporation.

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Shimizu Corporation, a Japanese construction firm, has recently proposed a plan to harness solar energy on a larger scale than almost any previously proposed concept. Their ambitious plan involves building a belt of solar cells around the Moon’s 6,800-mile (11,000-kilometer) equator, converting the electricity to powerful microwaves and lasers to be beamed at Earth, and finally converting the beams back to electricity at terrestrial power stations. The Luna Ring concept, the company says, could meet the entire world's energy needs.

Shimizu envisions that robots would play a vital role in building the Luna Ring. Teleoperated 24 hours a day from the Earth, the robots would perform tasks such as ground leveling and assembling machines and equipment, which would be done in space before landing them on the . A team of astronauts would support the robots on-site.

Due to the massive amount of solar panels and other materials needed for the project, Shimizu proposes that lunar resources should be used to the fullest extent possible. The company’s plans call for producing water by reducing with hydrogen imported from Earth. Lunar resources could also be used to make cementing material and concrete, while solar-heat treatments could help produce bricks, glass fibers, and other structural materials needed for the project.

The Luna Ring itself would initially have a width of a few kilometers, but could be extended up to 400 kilometers wide. The electric power generated by the solar cells would be transmitted by electric cables to transmission facilities on the near side of the Moon, which is constantly facing Earth. After the electricity is converted into microwave beams and laser beams, 20-kilometer-diameter antennas would beam the power to receivers on Earth. A guidance radio beacon would ensure accurate transmission to the receivers. The energy would then be converted back to electricity and supplied to grids, or possibly converted to hydrogen for fuel or storage.

Shimizu points out that one of the biggest advantages of the Luna Ring is that, since the Moon has virtually no atmosphere, there is no bad weather or clouds that could inhibit the efficiency of the . As such, the Luna Ring achieves 24/7 continuous clean energy generation, potentially ending our reliance on limited natural resources.


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User comments : 96

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ralph_wiggum
3.3 / 5 (7) Jun 02, 2010
Pfffft I say Dyson Sphere or bust!
michaelick
2.8 / 5 (4) Jun 02, 2010
I am wondering how the moon would look like from earth after the construction of this. I think it would change the minds of people.

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves
we will one day venture to the stars" - Carl Sagan

Well, if we do not destroy ourselves....
Foolish1
3 / 5 (2) Jun 02, 2010
Would an array of this scale effect the static potential of the moon?
Shootist
3.5 / 5 (8) Jun 02, 2010
And what is wrong with Solar Power Satellites™©?
Eric_B
1 / 5 (5) Jun 02, 2010
it will never happen...
http://www.youtub...=related
trekgeek1
3 / 5 (4) Jun 02, 2010
I like the concept, but I think they are aiming a little too high for the technology we have right now. have they demonstrated remote operated assembly of anything on earth with robots? I say they need to first prove they can manufacture and assemble moderately complex structures here on earth by robot only. But I do applaud them, sometimes you need to dream big to attain modest achievement. Even if it turns out to be a fraction of it's planned size, it would be a huge proof of concept.
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (6) Jun 02, 2010
Given the latest news of
- Japan wanting to shoot up an orbital sattelite in order beam down energy
- Japan wanting to put humanoid robts on the moon
- and now Japan wanting to convert the moon into giant death star

You can't accuse them of 'thinking small'

(but you also can't accuse them of being overly realistic)

And what is wrong with Solar Power Satellites

Cost. Even if you have to put up 4 solar power plants on the earth's surface to get the performance/reliability of a solar power sattelite it's WAY cheaper (and you are much better able to do maintenance).

jselin
1 / 5 (2) Jun 02, 2010
Moar!!!
Bill_M
4.1 / 5 (8) Jun 02, 2010
Please tell me that the person who wrote this doesn't actually think that the far side of the moon is always exposed to sunlight!!
HaveYouConsidered
4.1 / 5 (11) Jun 02, 2010
Somebody's pulling somebody's leg. The far side of the moon does not receive constant sunlight, as the article claims. This is false and reveals considerable ignorance on the part of the company, its PR firm and the article's author. Just give it a moment's thought. The near side always faces the earth, and the far side always faces away from the earth. The constantly changing phases of the moon's illuminated half change throughout the lunar month, so at various times the near side, or far side, is illuminated. But there will be spots near the lunar poles where constant light would be available, but coming from differing directions on differing days of the lunar month.
CSharpner
3 / 5 (10) Jun 02, 2010
Since the far side of the Moon receives constant exposure to Sunlight,


Say WHAT?!?!?!?!? The moon is a rotating sphere. It has day and night on BOTH sides. Come On!!!
Helical
4.2 / 5 (6) Jun 02, 2010
Wouldn't the ultimate benefit of the setup be the ability to capture solar cosmic radiation that is normally filtered out by earths atmosphere/magnetosphere? Why focus on visible light when the UV, X-ray and gamma spectra are far more energetic?
El_Nose
3 / 5 (3) Jun 02, 2010
I think the author was confused by the term:
dark side of the moon - meaning the side of the moon that is never visible to earth

And the fact that a spot on the moon can have darkness -- we never see the dark side of the moon, but that does not mean it is without sunlight - in fact when we have a new moon the dark side of the moon is completly lit up.

it can be a tough concept until you get two soda cans and draw something on one side that represents a face -- then it becomes simple to comprehend
gwargh
4.6 / 5 (7) Jun 02, 2010
what about meteor damage to the panels? I'm not sure how often the moon receives meteor showers, but I'm sure the panels would need to receive some type of protection (or else be continuously under repair).
physpuppy
4 / 5 (1) Jun 02, 2010
- Also : sure no clouds or bad weather, except for some micro-meteorites and a few large ones (as the moon craters attest) with nothing much to stop them.

(and there's that horrid dark side that so many have pointed out - so sunlight will be part time.)

Interesting concept though, possibly doable, but my first thought - beaming all that energy though our atmosphere, would that have any effect on our little world - ozone layer, our weather and so on.

gunslingor1
2 / 5 (3) Jun 02, 2010
Since the far side of the Moon receives constant exposure to Sunlight,


Say WHAT?!?!?!?!? The moon is a rotating sphere. It has day and night on BOTH sides. Come On!!!


Half the moon is always illuminated except during a solar eclipse, that's why they wan't to rap it around the entire thing.

Transmission would be darn near impossible. You'd have to do it in really really fast bursts, something like collecting a full days worth of energy, then beaming it to a tiny tiny point on the surface in less than a second, storing it somehow and sending it to the grid. Or you could do it every hour, but that's 24 stations equidistant around the globe.

This is a bit rediculous, probably propaganda distractions to maintain the "we are studying new technologies" attitude to avoid the energy revolution.

I agree the Dyson Sphere is probably more practical, lol.
Sonhouse
3 / 5 (1) Jun 02, 2010
The 11,000 km mentioned as the circumference of the moon would have to be divided in about 3 so the effective area would be about 4000 km (4E6 meters) times what, 10 Km? (10,000 meters)So if those #'s hold, you would have 4 E 10 square meters of surface area for PV's. Now at about 1 Kw/ meter squared gives you 4 E 13 watts at the surface times whatever efficiency # they end up with, say 25%, then you end up with about 1 Terawatt collected. Assuming you have the means to get that to Earth, you may lose half on the way ( a guess) leaving you with about 500 Gw 24/7 on the Earth. If they can in fact do 400 Km, that would multiply that by 40 or sending about 20 Terawatts, a lot of energy but by no means the whole shebang of human energy use. The USA alone sucks up about 10 TW. Having said that, I don't see how they could get the job done in less than 50 years or more even assuming the world went for it, it would clearly be too expensive even for a country as rich as Japan.
CSharpner
3 / 5 (1) Jun 02, 2010
Interesting concept though, possibly doable, but my first thought - beaming all that energy though our atmosphere, would that have any effect on our little world - ozone layer, our weather and so on.

I thought about that too back when that solar satellite was discussed last year to direct solar energy from space to Earth. Think of Earth as an ant and these solar arrays as a big magnifying glass focusing the suns rays on the ant. :)

It may be "clean" energy, but it'll cause Earth to absorb even MORE solar radiation than it already is. A few satellites might not have much of an impact, but redirect all the sunlight that hits a 400 mile swatch across the entire face of the bright side of the moon towards Earth... can't see that helping the fight against global warming... only contributing to global warming.
CSharpner
3 / 5 (1) Jun 02, 2010


Since the far side of the Moon receives constant exposure to Sunlight,

Say WHAT?!?!?!?!? The moon is a rotating sphere. It has day and night on BOTH sides. Come On!!!

Half the moon is always illuminated except during a solar eclipse, that's why they wan't to rap it around the entire thing.


Yes, but not the "far side". The far side is the same as the near side... both go through day and night. The text in the article is plain wrong. The far side of the moon does NOT receive constant sunlight. From Earth, when we see a full moon, the "far side" is in complete darkness.
marjon
2.5 / 5 (2) Jun 02, 2010
"The LSP System uses 10 to 20 pairs of bases-one of each pair on the eastern edge and the other on the western edge of the moon, as seen from Earth-to collect on the order of 1% of the solar power reaching the lunar surface. The collected sunlight is converted to many low intensity beams of microwaves and directed to rectennas on Earth. Each rectenna converts the microwave power to electricity that is fed into the local electric grid. The system could easily deliver the 20 TW or more of electric power required by 10 billion people. "
http://www.acm.or...mar.html
Phideaux
3 / 5 (2) Jun 02, 2010
If the laser/microwave beam isn't aimed very precisely, it could take out military installations, cities etc.. Human nature being what it is, how likely would this scenario be?
Quantum_Conundrum
1.5 / 5 (4) Jun 02, 2010
Shootist:

Satellites are only cost-efficient if like 99.99% of the materials are mined from asteroids.

Launching them from earth costs more than they would ever be worth at this point.

But the Japanese are at least ambitious and exploring this. American energy companies suck and are only in it for themselves, milking the "fossil fuel" cow for every cent they can.

However, even the Japanese don't get it. You gotta use self-replicating robots. Having people on earth operating ROVs with a 2.5 second delay is a joke.
TAz00
5 / 5 (1) Jun 02, 2010
I like the concept, but I think they are aiming a little too high for the technology we have right now. have they demonstrated remote operated assembly of anything on earth with robots?


A remote controlled earth mover has been seen many times.
Robotic arms assemble cars every day.
Robottic arms can be controlled with human input from earth as if they were your own. 3D also available.

Just launch the rockets already!
Peteri
2.3 / 5 (9) Jun 02, 2010
Before we all get carried away with the gee-wizardry of the technology, I think we should step back and consider what we're actually thinking of doing here. Not content with despoiling the Earth in our relentless pursuit of resources and energy, we are now turning our ravenous eyes to the Moon. If this ill-conceived project were to ever came to fruition, it would mar the Moon's surface for eons to come. I personally can't think of a worse thing for us to contemplate doing to such a beautiful object in our night's sky.
TAz00
3 / 5 (4) Jun 02, 2010
Before we all get carried away with the gee-wizardry of the technology, I think we should step back and consider what we're actually thinking of doing here. Not content with despoiling the Earth in our relentless pursuit of resources and energy, we are now turning our ravenous eyes to the Moon. If this ill-conceived project were to ever came to fruition, it would mar the Moon's surface for eons to come. I personally can't think of a worse thing for us to contemplate doing to such a beautiful object in our night's sky.


Its a Rock, hell i would send robots up there just to carve a message in the ground.

The moon is useless. Pretty, but useless.
Also, if this will provice our energy, we would have to cut back on everything else. I mean, how much energy can you pump into the earth before we heat up?
Peteri
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 02, 2010
Its a Rock, hell i would send robots up there just to carve a message in the ground.


Hmm, mindless graffiti on a grand scale. How trite.
slaveunit
4.5 / 5 (4) Jun 02, 2010
There is one really good idea in all of this and that is the concept of remote/robotic construction/mining on the moon if we can bomb terrorists with drones from half a world away the technical capacity to build a moon base and set up habitats/facilities already exists. This is the perfect system to reduce costs for the moon base we should be building.
The moon is also rich in titanium aluminium etc which could be smelted off planet and reurned to earth.
While it is true no side of the moon is permanently in sun/shade there are supposedly sites at the north/south poles on the moon that are constantly in sun/shade.
But the whole power stations idea is a crock build lots of solar thermal/wind and storage systems and we can have a green grid in less than a generation and pay less for our electricity than we do now.
YourKidding
2.1 / 5 (7) Jun 02, 2010
Taz00-The moon is useless. Pretty, but useless.

This might be one of the most ignorant comments I have ever heard. Without the moon the earth wouldn't be able to maintain its orbit and we would be sent far into the cold depths of space. In addition the moon also happens to provide the majority of our tidal action providing the medium for life on this planet. Without the moon we would not exist, so in conclusion the moon is pretty and is very, very useful. You need to think harder before you post garbage.
slaveunit
4.2 / 5 (5) Jun 02, 2010
Speaking of garbage mercury and venus have no moons and mars moons are little more than asteroids captured long after formation yet they have not sailed off into the wide black yonder. the moon is important for many reasons but the point was that its beauty is not inherently a good reason not to develop it. you need to think harder before posting garbage. or at least criticise nicely.
jamey
3.5 / 5 (2) Jun 02, 2010
I'm having trouble finding in the article where it says the far side gets constant daylight. It *does* say the near side constantly faces Earth - which it does. Only half of the solar cells would be putting out power at any one time - but that's still a lot of power being collected.
antialias_physorg
4.1 / 5 (9) Jun 02, 2010
Only half of the solar cells would be putting out power at any one time - but that's still a lot of power being collected.


Which is also the amount of solar cells that would put out power if you place them here on earth (e.g in deserts where the number of overcast days is less than 5 per year).

AND you wouldn't have all the losses from beaming back the energy.

AND you wouldn't need to worry about people turning this thing into a death star.

AND you could easily maintain/upgrade it.

AND it would cost only a small fraction of what putting all that stuff on the moon would cost

AND... (need I go on?)

Summary: The moon-solar-cell-array is cool tech. But it's also an incredibly stupid idea.
YourKidding
2 / 5 (4) Jun 02, 2010
Slaveunit. Let me elaborate. Without the moon the earth would have its axis thrown off causing it to rotate wildly or to say without any control. This random rotation would eventually be seen in significant planetary movement effectively altering our orbit around the sun. To address another point, like Mercury and Venus, the Earth started off without a moon. The moon was most likely formed by a piece of our planet that broke off around 4.5bya. As far as Mars is concerned as you stated their moons were most likely captured asteroids and are regarded as relatively small. The earth’s moon is the largest in comparison to its planet, which is the largest ratio in the entire solar system. It should also be noted that this does not ultimately prove anything, but is meant to spur more discussion about theoretical physics. I will try to criticize nicely in the future.
fixer
4 / 5 (3) Jun 02, 2010
The silliest article I have seen in weeks.
If Japan can make that many solar cells then stick them on the roof and generate all the power you need right here!
otto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jun 02, 2010
If the laser/microwave beam isn't aimed very precisely, it could take out military installations, cities etc.. Human nature being what it is, how likely would this scenario be?
-Another dastardly Yakusa plot for world domination
-Interesting thought experiment
-Shimizu publicity ploy

JohnnyMan
4.2 / 5 (5) Jun 02, 2010
Hmmm, doesn't Japan have an emperor? Sounds like the Death Star to me. For our sake, lets hope they leave an exhaust vent at least 2 meters wide.
mbutcher2
2 / 5 (3) Jun 02, 2010
Surely the fact that the moon doesn't have an atmosphere is going to be a huge hinderance not an asset. The moon gets bombarded with asteroids frequently and with no atmosphere I don't think it would take very long for the solar panels to get destroyed by them.
marjon
1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 02, 2010
A side story to this story are all the negative comments saying it can't be done.
If the Japanese want to do this and you don't have to pay for it, why would you care?
nuge
1 / 5 (2) Jun 02, 2010
Shimizu Corp: "IMMA CHARGIN MAH LAZORS!!!!!!!"
LWM
2 / 5 (2) Jun 02, 2010
No atmosphere is right! The moon is cratered for a reason. There would constant bombardment of stuff knocking things out or rendering the panels useless.
LWM
2 / 5 (2) Jun 02, 2010
No atmosphere is right! The moon is cratered for a reason. There would constant bombardment of stuff knocking things out or rendering the panels useless.
Bob_Kob
1.3 / 5 (3) Jun 02, 2010
Possible, but not within the next 40 years...
GaryB
4.7 / 5 (3) Jun 02, 2010
For like 1/10K the cost, you could develop and deploy thorium breeder reactors and we'd have ~1000 years of energy to think what to do next.

I am all for having a robotic program of building infrastructure up there however.
magpies
1.5 / 5 (4) Jun 03, 2010
It could create lots of glare at night people might have problems sleeping if they did this...
Isupportpeople
Jun 03, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Isupportpeople
Jun 03, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Quantum_Conundrum
3 / 5 (6) Jun 03, 2010
BobKob:

The Saturn V system delivered a 65000kg payload to the moon. Considering half this payload was the rockets for coming back, how many self-replicating robots do you suppose the proposed ~3 times bigger NOVA rocket launch system could put on the moon?

This stuff isn't as hard as you think if NASA supposedly did it 40 years ago.

The fact is neither the government nor capitalists in the U.S. want anyone to have cheap energy or space-age "type 1" or "type 2" robotics technology.

If they did, the "powers that be" would be out of power.
Isupportpeople
Jun 03, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Djincs
2.8 / 5 (5) Jun 03, 2010
" After the electricity is converted into microwave beams and laser beams, 20-kilometer-diameter antennas would beam the power to receivers on Earth."
I am not a physicist but that part seems to me like sci-fi....
cmn
1 / 5 (3) Jun 03, 2010
Yeah, cause actually getting to the moon in one piece isn't challenging enough.
sender
1.5 / 5 (4) Jun 03, 2010
dyson's grid around solar nuclear coreolis collating energy to lagrangian orbital stations for space fountain beam technologies would be easier accomplished, agree with ralph
SmartK8
1 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2010
I hope the humanoid robots will be installing that belt. Otherwise I'd be disappointed by Japan. Anyway, before they'll pull it of, there will be the thermonuclear fusion reactors available. Then again, why bother to beam it back to facility, when you've targets all over the place.
ShotmanMaslo
2 / 5 (4) Jun 03, 2010
Yeah, good luck to them then, they will need it. I dont see any reason why solar panels have to be located on the frakkin Moon. The efficiency of beaming power back to earth and the cost to even achieve something like this is prohibitive. Just put them on some desert and you have far cheaper and more efficient solution. But it is not so cool, I will admit that.. :D
thingumbobesquire
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 03, 2010
Another article by the hoaxer Lisa Zyga...
LKD
1.9 / 5 (7) Jun 03, 2010
If Japan puts a racing stripe on the near side of the moon, I'll be the first to propose we destroy it immediately, and disallow Japan back into space for 50 years. There is an entire other half of the moon that no human will ever see in my life time. So go town there and have fun. Do not change the face of our side of the moon yet.
snapoli
3.3 / 5 (3) Jun 03, 2010
The promises implied in "supply all of the earth's energy needs" makes me laugh. That may or may not be true. But, as usual with any discovery that may be wealth generating, be it an oil field or mineral deposit; you can be sure that the uberclass of the world will control it and siphon off the lion's share of the value and assure that there will always be a struggle for survival for most of the world's population..
Objectivist
3 / 5 (6) Jun 03, 2010
The moon is useless. Pretty, but useless.
I think marine life depending on tidewater would beg to differ.
Objectivist
3 / 5 (3) Jun 03, 2010
The silliest article I have seen in weeks.
If Japan can make that many solar cells then stick them on the roof and generate all the power you need right here!
Except Japan is about half the size of Texas with six times as many inhabitants. But yeah, no, you're right -- how silly of them to not even consider roofs. I mean it feels like such a natural stepping stone. It kind of reminds me of this other universe I know where that did happen. It was all weird, full of monkey like creatures roaming on a constellation of mass shaped like a sphere and covered mostly by a transparent fluid that apparently was essential to their lives, and where the "so called" Japanese did consider solar panels on roofs. Oh no wait, that was this universe.

Ok I'm done now.
Skeptic_Heretic
1.7 / 5 (3) Jun 03, 2010
The moon is useless. Pretty, but useless.
I think marine life depending on tidewater would beg to differ.

I think all of life on earth would beg to differ, tidewater would simply be the first hit.
fourthletter
5 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2010
The comments on this story are very disturbing since most of the authors are completely unaware of even primary school astronomy.
The moon is in synchronous rotation with the earth which means one side is always away from the earth. It does not spin like the Earth !
Since the surface of the moon reflects very little light (about the same reflective quality as coal) what we see as "the dark side of the moon" is really still getting a huge amount of solar radiation, and since we never see the far side, we will not see a solar strip.
The whole idea is ridiculous as a solar power collector in our orbit would much better, cheaper to run and easier to fix.
However the class of idiot comments on a science website are priceless !
Bloodoflamb
3 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2010
The Moon DOES spin. If it didn't, it wouldn't face the earth with only a single side. Learn physics, please.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (1) Jun 03, 2010
From the article
As such, the Luna Ring achieves 24/7 continuous clean energy generation,


But since the moon revolves around the earth no point on earth (read none of the base stations that receive power) gets 24/7 coverage. So you'd still be leaving all of the world half of the time 'in the dark'.
marjon
3 / 5 (4) Jun 03, 2010
Someone needs to create a "sun gun" to destroy Israel. ;-)

Why does this tripe get trough unless the editors agree with killing people?
LuckyBrandon
1.5 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2010
Shimizu points out that one of the biggest advantages of the Luna Ring is that, since the Moon has virtually no atmosphere, there is no bad weather or clouds that could inhibit the efficiency of the solar panels. As such, the Luna Ring achieves 24/7 continuous clean energy generation, potentially ending our reliance on limited natural resources.


The moon also doesn't have a magnetic field to block the solar radiation and flares that can knock out earth based satellites...they would need some massive shielding I'd think....

This is a great concept, but unfortunately, it would cost the world all of its money to do it...
marjon
3 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2010
it would cost the world all of its money to do it...

Who is asking the world to pay?
kasen
1 / 5 (1) Jun 03, 2010
Given the traditional colour of solar panels, this would definitely give a new meaning to the idiom "once in a blue moon".

I guess it's official, Japan is infected with PRitis. Or most of their corporate execs have been enjoying the benefits of certain medicinal herbs lately.
Shootist
2 / 5 (3) Jun 03, 2010
Cost. Even if you have to put up 4 solar power plants on the earth's surface to get the performance/reliability of a solar power sattelite it's WAY cheaper (and you are much better able to do maintenance).


Admittedly low cost to earth orbit is necessary.

You appear to forget, the SPS won't be weathering.

You appear to forget, the SPS will be in daylight 24/7.

You appear to forget, the SPS will not be rained on or have cloudy days.

You appear to forget, the SPS will be immune to ground based disaster.

An investment more like Hoover Dam, than those solar farms that will never, ever, pay for themselves.
marjon
3 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2010
Cost. Even if you have to put up 4 solar power plants on the earth's surface to get the performance/reliability of a solar power sattelite it's WAY cheaper (and you are much better able to do maintenance).

Don't invest in SPS.
If you think it is a waste of money, don't invest and don't let politicians give them any tax money.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (1) Jun 03, 2010
You appear to forget, the SPS won't be weathering.

Neither will those on earth if you take minimal precautions (a bit of clingwrap protects those from all but UV degradation. And SPS have that problem, too)

You appear to forget, the SPS will be in daylight 24/7.

Not those on the moon. Those on sattelites: yes. That's the ONLY thing sattelites have going for them.

You appear to forget, the SPS will not be rained on or have cloudy days.

Plenty of places where the number of rainy days is so low as to be negligible. And if you can build 4-for-1 and space them out at the same cost even that is not a problem (e.g. death valley has no rainy days for years at a stretch)

You appear to forget, the SPS will be immune to ground based disaster.
Such as? Earthquakes don't hurt solar cells. And ground based stuff is not susceptible to micrometeorites (read: how will you do maintenance in space? Especially in GEO? No shuttels go that far)

antialias_physorg
4.5 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2010
You appear to forget, the SPS will be immune to ground based disaster.

It's hard to remember when the last power plant (of any type) was struck by 'ground based disaster'. Could you give an example? One that is relevant to a solar power plant?

An investment more like Hoover Dam, than those solar farms that will never, ever, pay for themselves.

And SPS will? Have you any idea how much it costs to shoot up 1kg of payload to GEO or even LEO. Look it up and compute how many square meters of solar cells you can build additionally on earth for that.

You talk so off-hand about "we need a cheaper way of launching stuff". Duh.
But I see no such technology even remotely on the horizon (at least not in the timespan we have in order to convert to alternative technologies)

And then you might look up how much damage rocket exhaust does to the ozone layer and then do the math on what would happen if were to put SPSs up there to only cover 1% of our energy need.
fixer
2 / 5 (1) Jun 03, 2010
So its as I said earlier, Mount them on your roof and enjoy free power.
I wonder how many of you "posties" actually have solar power at home. not many is my guess!
antialias
5 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2010
Actually I helped my dad put up a solar collector for hot water and photovoltaic cells. Both systems have about the same size. The thermal collector far outperforms the PV (in terms of cost - benefit) - but the PV still will pay for itself in 10-15 years - even if we consider degradation.
CSharpner
5 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2010
Jamey,
I'm having trouble finding in the article where it says the far side gets constant daylight. It *does* say the near side constantly faces Earth - which it does. Only half of the solar cells would be putting out power at any one time - but that's still a lot of power being collected.

They've updated the article. Find my first post. I copied and pasted the text as it was.
CSharpner
3.6 / 5 (5) Jun 04, 2010
The moon is useless. Pretty, but useless.


I think marine life depending on tidewater would beg to differ.


I think all of life on earth would beg to differ, tidewater would simply be the first hit.


Y'all are missing the point. No one's talking about REMOVING the moon from orbit!!! NOTHING about this plan would have ANY effect on gravitational tidal forces. The Earth will NOT fly off into empty space. The moon IS a useless piece of rock floating in space. We can't "harm" it because there's nothing to harm. It'd dead. It DOES have plenty of resources that we could use to improve human civilization. Though, this particular solar panel idea is kind of wacko, the moon, as it sits right now, is useless. We can change that though, aesthetics aside.
LuckyBrandon
2 / 5 (2) Jun 04, 2010
fixer-solar isnt worth the cost right now...in 10 years, sure, maybe, but right now, its a rip off. For someone like me, who does NOT buy a home to remain in it for 30, 50, 75 years, a 10-15 year cost recoup is nowhere near sufficient. If panels get to 60-80% efficiency, I'm down, until then, I'll continue to use solar only for the small things (yard lighting, cell phone charging on occasion, hell, even my watch is solar powered)...but for the house, no, I'd go with wind before solar (also same down side for me as mentioned above though), and I live in north texas, where both wind and sun are consistently present.

I have blueprints drawn up for something that may knock both out of the water though, but still have to build the prototype and measure its output. Its a b*tch to find the parts I need....
Ashibayai
5 / 5 (2) Jun 04, 2010
Yeah, let's beam it down to Earth. That's real smart...

If we have robots capable of construction on the moon, I think the energy gathered would be worth a premium price. Right there! On the moon!
nevdka
3 / 5 (1) Jun 05, 2010
While the light side of the Moon will always be facing Earth, the moon still orbits around Earth. (OK, it orbits the center of gravity of the Earth-Moon system, but that's inside Earth's crust, so... yeah...) Having a single transmitter seems like a useless economy when you'll need multiple receivers, and you have free robotic slave labor.

The only way this could be better than satellites would be if the robots reproduce and get all construction materials from the moon itself. If we had the technology to do that, wouldn't it be a crapload cheaper to put it in the Mojave, Sahara, Gobi and Simpson deserts? The biggest hurdle to solar right now is that it's expensive to build. If solar panels were easy enough for an automated lunar robot to build, then they would be cheap enough to use as roads, roofs, walls and windows.

Then there's the whole 'Death Star' thing. It makes me slightly uncomfortable... And I remember what GDI's Ion Cannon could do in Command and Conquer...
altino
4 / 5 (2) Jun 05, 2010
Since the far side of the Moon receives constant exposure to Sunlight,


Say WHAT?!?!?!?!? The moon is a rotating sphere. It has day and night on BOTH sides. Come On!!!


:) ahah
altino
1 / 5 (5) Jun 05, 2010
A side story to this story are all the negative comments saying it can't be done.
If the Japanese want to do this and you don't have to pay for it, why would you care?


This will unbalance earth, and so... all living creatures on earth.
Tepp
5 / 5 (3) Jun 05, 2010
A side story to this story are all the negative comments saying it can't be done.
If the Japanese want to do this and you don't have to pay for it, why would you care?


This will unbalance earth, and so... all living creatures on earth.


What? If you weren't told you and most of people who don't own telescopes wouldn't even know this was done.
CSharpner
3 / 5 (1) Jun 05, 2010
Nevdka,
While the light side of the Moon will always be facing Earth

By "light side", I'm hoping you mean "the side that faces us always faces us" and not "the side that faces us is always light"?
Szkeptik
3 / 5 (2) Jun 05, 2010
Well, this is a great idea if we need more power circa 2300. Today this is nothing more than a sci-fi story, and probably a marketing scheme.
Harkonnen
5 / 5 (1) Jun 06, 2010
It would probably make more practical sense to send a lot of nuclear reactors to the moon and then beam the power from there.

No more nuclear waste on the earth and we get lots of power at probably a fraction of the cost of this solar panel idea on the moon.
[rant]
Or we could just build some god damn nuclear plants here on earth and when someone complains about the waste tell them to stfu.[/rant]

TAz00
2 / 5 (1) Jun 06, 2010
Taz00-The moon is useless. Pretty, but useless.

This might be one of the most ignorant comments I have ever heard. Without the moon the earth wouldn't be able to maintain its orbit and we would be sent far into the cold depths of space. In addition the moon also happens to provide the majority of our tidal action providing the medium for life on this planet. Without the moon we would not exist, so in conclusion the moon is pretty and is very, very useful. You need to think harder before you post garbage.


Obviously, and adding solar panels changes nothing of that. You are a little sidetracked and off topic, but I forgive you.
Parsec
4 / 5 (1) Jun 06, 2010
And what is wrong with Solar Power Satellites��?

Nada. Its just easier to build on something than not.
HeloMenelo
1.6 / 5 (5) Jun 06, 2010
Look at how some biology harvest energy, their "roofs" (leafs) are the "solar panels"

It seems natural to me that our houses be made of Solar panels or at the very least the roofs.

Nature's been doing it for billions of years and it hasn't changed and still works like a charm.

Though this is an interesting idea and i like the technology involved.
HeloMenelo
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 06, 2010
Or create more silent and efficient rotorblades, maybe 6-8 bladed systems, reducing noise and increasing efficiency.

Olivia
3 / 5 (1) Jun 06, 2010
I know that solar cells need a lot of cooling to be efficient, one cell at 25'C may produce 0.5v, but at 70'C the cell produces exactly 0volt. The problem is, moon has no atmosphere, air cooling is impossible. Well, you can transfer all the heat to the dark side of the moon.

Our solar cells are way too expensive to be efficient. How if new very cheap substances are discovered after all solar arrays are set up? You got to change all of them right from the start, right?
Sonhouse
not rated yet Jun 06, 2010
Given the latest news of
- Japan wanting to shoot up an orbital sattelite in order beam down energy
- Japan wanting to put humanoid robts on the moon
- and now Japan wanting to convert the moon into giant death star

You can't accuse them of 'thinking small'

(but you also can't accuse them of being overly realistic)

And what is wrong with Solar Power Satellites

Cost. Even if you have to put up 4 solar power plants on the earth's surface to get the performance/reliability of a solar power sattelite it's WAY cheaper (and you are much better able to do maintenance).


One problem would be the low orbit these things would be in, if they were at the altitude of the space station, drag would accumulate requiring periodic boosting. If they were in geosych altitude, some 36,000 km up there would be much less needed in the way of boosting but you might as well be on the moon as far as maintenance goes. The best of all worlds would be a space elevator with solar panels there.
Sonhouse
not rated yet Jun 06, 2010
I know that solar cells need a lot of cooling to be efficient, one cell at 25'C may produce 0.5v, but at 70'C the cell produces exactly 0volt. The problem is, moon has no atmosphere, air cooling is impossible. Well, you can transfer all the heat to the dark side of the moon.

It that were the case, PV cells on the space station would be in trouble, but they seem to be generating a quarter megawatt all the time so I don't see that as a problem on the moon.

Our solar cells are way too expensive to be efficient. How if new very cheap substances are discovered after all solar arrays are set up? You got to change all of them right from the start, right?

Sonhouse
not rated yet Jun 06, 2010
My comment to that post didn't make it. I said if that were so, the PV cells on the space station would be in trouble but they are cranking out a quarter megawatt and have for years so there shouldn't be much problem on the moon. Besides, they can be made to reflect IR which is the majority of the heat and just convert visible light to energy.
Eezyville
not rated yet Jun 06, 2010
It sounds like a great idea for generating power on the Moon. But I don't like the fact that they want to beam concentrated energy back down to Earth. Looks like a death ray to me.
Sonhouse
not rated yet Jun 06, 2010
It sounds like a great idea for generating power on the Moon. But I don't like the fact that they want to beam concentrated energy back down to Earth. Looks like a death ray to me.


The beam would be spread out over several square kilometers so the average power would not fry anything but maybe birds in the beam. They can fix that with a high fence around the receiving antenna.

It would be designed in such a way as to be near impossible to weaponize.
abhiGHAJINI
not rated yet Jun 07, 2010
no i'm not clear about one thing the Moon will be usually hit by hundreds of asteroids,comets or any other space objects and they don't burn due to lack of atmosphere will the Energy Panels really sustain all such huge crashes ? if so then to what extent"?
antialias
not rated yet Jun 07, 2010
The ISS is basically as exposed to micrometeorites as the moon. AFAIK it's still on its original set of panels.
derphysiker
5 / 5 (1) Jun 07, 2010
Sorry, but no. Don't. Putting a fraction of humankinds energy needs into a rather tight beam and pointing it at earth? Am I the only one who has a bad feeling about this?!

OK, I'm not the only one:
Luke: "Look at him. He's headed for that small moon."
Han: "I think I can get him before he gets there. He's almost in range."
Obi-Wan: "That's no moon. It's a space station."
Luke: "I have a very bad feeling about this."
Bloodoflamb
5 / 5 (1) Jun 07, 2010
'It's too big to be a space station.'

I say that quote without context all the time. Nice to be able to say it in context for once.
TAz00
not rated yet Jun 08, 2010
The ISS is basically as exposed to micrometeorites as the moon. AFAIK it's still on its original set of panels.


There might be something to this, the moon is a bit bigger than the ISS, might pull in more meteorites?
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Jun 08, 2010
No more nuclear waste on the earth and we get lots of power at probably a fraction of the cost of this solar panel idea on the moon.
[rant]
Or we could just build some god damn nuclear plants here on earth and when someone complains about the waste tell them to stfu.[/rant]

Except there's no such thing as nuclear waste. Just radioactive material that we're unable to harvest further energy from.

Stick it in a salt pan and pick the reactables and precious metals out of it later, or even better, stick it in a traveling wave or fast breeder reactor. Zero waste, all energy.
Sonhouse
not rated yet Jun 08, 2010
Sorry, but no. Don't. Putting a fraction of humankinds energy needs into a rather tight beam and pointing it at earth? Am I the only one who has a bad feeling about this?!

OK, I'm not the only one:

Luke: "Look at him. He's headed for that small moon."
Han: "I think I can get him before he gets there. He's almost in range."
Obi-Wan: "That's no moon. It's a space station."
Luke: "I have a very bad feeling about this.

If this idea actually came about it would certainly not be putting all our eggs in one basket, it would just be another source of energy. We would not stop using nuclear nor would we stop research on the various concepts of fusion. Nor would we stop drilling oil, unfortunately. We would still make solar cells for use on Earth and the space station or whatever subs for that in the future and we would not stop using wind or wave power (solar power, delayed), nor would we stop developing geothermal power. We will be using all of the above.