(Phys.org) —Japanese construction firm Shimizu Corp. has unveiled a proposal that entails building a solar panel array around the moon's equator, then sending the power it collects back to Earth. They are calling the project LUNA RING.
Since the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan back in March 2011 (which led to closing the country's nuclear power plants) scientists there (and elsewhere) have been scrambling to find ways to create electricity for the country in other ways. In this latest proposal, a private company is reaching, quite literally, for the sky.
The idea, company reps say, is to lay down a band of concrete (which can be made from moon soil) 250 miles wide all the way around the moon's equator (a distance of approximately 6,800 miles), using robots directed by humans back here on Earth. Next, the concrete would be covered with solar panels, which would be connected via cables to microwave and laser transmission stations. The energy beams sent from the moon would be directed at receiving stations on Earth, allowing for a round-the-clock source of energy as there are no clouds or other bad weather on the moon. Shimizu claims that such a system would be capable of sending 13,000 terawatts of power back to Earth and that construction could begin on the project as early as 2035.
Not addressed are the costs and considerable hurdles such a project would have to overcome—foremost among them would be building such a massive structure from such a great distance—nothing like it has ever been attempted. There are also issues of getting the international community to go along with the project and overcoming seemingly simple problems, such as lunar soil disrupting the robots and their construction efforts—not to mention dusting the solar cells once in place.
It's quite possible that Shimizu has no intention of actually attempting to carry out its proposed project, but is instead using it as showcase to demonstrate the great lengths it and the country are willing to go to restore the electrical infrastructure of their country. It's also possible that other, less difficult projects or new technologies could make the construction of LUNA RING moot by the time the company is ready to start building it.
Explore further: Japanese firm wants to transform the Moon into a giant solar power plant