Space Based Solar Power

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by publiusr, Mar 14, 2015.

  1. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    There seems to be some progress on this front:
    http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/03/ten-kilowatts-beamed-500-meters-in.html


    Even the resident skeptic there seems interested:

    At 1 kW/m² Dirtside, then there is something like 1 GW/km² of power density that could be slated. The ½ km diameter ( ³/₁₆ km² ) proposed spot would be too tiny AKA unsafe for most planners, for a 1 GW power source. But if it were 5 km in diameter ≡ 18 km², then potentially up to 18 GW might be authorized for the transmitted beam. That begins to look like civilization changing enterprise.

    GoatGuy
     
  2. JES

    JES Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2011
    Location:
    Ocoee, Florida
    Yeah, I remember something similar to that in Sim City. They were called microwave generators.

    If this works out, Mitsubishi could make a lot of money from this.
     
  3. DarthTom

    DarthTom Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
    ^^ For Japan, this sure would be a much safer source of electricity than nuclear power as they so painfully learned.
     
  4. scotthm

    scotthm Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2003
    Location:
    USA
    What is all this radiation going to do to the living tissue that passes through it every day?

    ---------------
     
  5. JES

    JES Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2011
    Location:
    Ocoee, Florida
    The same thought and question had occurred to me as well. I'm assuming they'll have to make sure that the transmissions won't pass through anyone.

    I assume that it would be bad for anything organic to be touched by those microwaves, so I assume that is an issue that will need to be addressed to make the technology safe.

    Then again, given the amount of power being emitted from the satellites themselves, I don't think it would be good if they hit anything other than the power plant's receiver.

    Still, since we haven't mastered fusion yet, this really seems to be the best alternative to fossil fuels and even fission power plants, which I will be all to happy to see as a thing of the past.
     
  6. Paul Weaver

    Paul Weaver Rear Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 1999
    Location:
    Cheshire, UK
    1GW on a 500mx500m collection area is 4kW per square metre, only 4 times the peak earth surface level. A 500m diameter circle would only be 5kW/sqm

    Assuming they employ the same types of bird prevention things that airports use, is there really going to be a lot of energy passing into the average bird, who at altitude is probably passing over the entire area within 20-30 seconds?

    The frequency used to beam down will be chosen to not be absorbed very well by the atmosphere too, and presumably by living tissue too, it's in the power company's interest to get most of the energy absorbed by the solar cells.
     
  7. Dryson

    Dryson Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2014
    Would the same process be able to be used to beam solar energy to planets such as Titan and Europa? Or are these planets with in the region of being able to collect solar energy with relative ease?
     
  8. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    Just around the bend.
    Titan and Europa are moons, not planets. They orbit planets that are too far from the sun for the efficient use of solar panels and too far to beam energy from closer in panels to work. This is why NASA uses radio isotope decay reactors to power probes sent to those planets and moons.
     
  9. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
  10. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    The DoD seems interested:
    http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/02/space-based-solar-power-winner-in.html

    Power beaming for the future.
    http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/03/by-2040-space-power-beaming-could-be.html

    If Skylon really became a thing, SPSS could really take off:
    http://www.space.com/32115-skylon-space-plane-engines-air-force-vehicle.html

    The full sized Skylon looks to be as tall as SLS:
    http://www.space.com/32112-how-skylon-space-plane-works-infographic.html

    It won't take the very largest payloads (there will always be a need for BFR/ Big Onion type craft for the most massive payloads.
     
  11. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Your Mom
    How exciting! So now the only thing standing between Japan and Space Based Solar power is Japan not actually having a space program OR the engineering knowledge neccesary to actually build anything in space!

    Space-based solar power isn't going to be useful for anyone except for people who are actually LIVING in space. There will be a couple thousand people living in orbital facilities before they have a sufficient surplus of power to ship some of it to Earth.
     
  12. Ar-Pharazon

    Ar-Pharazon Vice Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2005
    Location:
    Far North Chicago Suburbs
    What about airplanes passing through? Would it cause problems with the electronics?
     
  13. Nebusj

    Nebusj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
  14. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    PE&G seemed interested awhile back. I think a more limited system to deliver power to isolated parts of the military is a good starting point. Get the military to pay for something besides fighters.

    If I can beam power directly to assets in the field--I can use my first world advantages on the battlefield by bringing my infrastructure with me without having the massive Cold War WWII logistics costs associated with conventional forms of force projection.

    Airplanes and birds are not going to be harmed by passing overhead the rectenna.

    On the other hand--ground based solar power is a glare hazard to pilots and has incinerated birds
    http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/...death-ray-thats-incinerating-birds-mid-flight

    Space based solar is less a hazard to birds than wind farms or ground based solar--which cannot lead to DE-STAR, DEEP BEAM, etc.
     
  15. Dryson

    Dryson Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2014
    Space Based Solar Power will also help advance space colonization especially when the solar power can be beamed to planets without any natural resources on them like Mars.
     
  16. Doom Shepherd

    Doom Shepherd Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2011
    Location:
    Proxy Sever 804
    Japan has a space program. They even send supplies to the ISS. Not people, sure, but right now only Russia can do that. You don't necessarily need people to unfurl solar panels in space, or even assemble things, anyway.

    As for the rest of it... WHY would we need thousands of people in orbital facilities for a mostly-automated station?
     
  17. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Your Mom
    ... which is the point.

    Japan has a satellite program. That is not quite the same thing (it is also not particularly uncommon these days).

    On the scale of which orbit-based solar power will actually become a practical endeavor, you certainly will. Such a facility would dwarf the ISS several dozen times in terms of scale and complexity and the maintenance requirements would be even more extreme. Not as a matter of safety or reliability, but more as a matter of insurance and due diligence: governments and companies do not invest that kind of cabbage into a system that cannot be repaired if something goes wrong.

    You kind of have that backwards: there's no reason to have a large mostly-automated space station when a very small one -- e.g. a normal communications satellite -- will do pretty much anything we currently need it to do. The ability to beam power back to Earth FROM orbit implies a surplus of energy that a massive orbital facility does not consume on its own; but for that to happen, the massive orbital facility must have a reason to exist.

    Currently, there is no reason because "Beam solar power back to Earth" isn't a good enough reason to justify that sort of facility. If that huge manned station were to be built for some OTHER reason, orbital solar power would be a definite perk. But power ALONE isn't good enough.
     
  18. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Well, baby steps have to come first--a demonstrator.

    The good thing about any fledgling demonstrator--is that you also have a defacto solar electric spacecraft that only lacks a bottle of noble gases or whatever--that can be switched out with the microwave power beaming elements.

    Say someone finally gets fusion done right (maybe this will also pan out: http://arxiv.org/abs/1603.01482 )

    No biggie--you just use the SPS system (manned or unmanned) as something else. Infrastructure that can always be placed elsewhere. Say a massive Solar electric craft to Mars and its moons.

    The manned element is there for a repair shack. We learned from LDEF that things do wear in space--lubrication perhaps the biggest problem with any joints--anything that has to slew.

    Even China seems to have an interest. Not only are they going ahead with their CZ-9--but possible SPS payloads down the line:

    China is even eyeing the possibility of operating a space solar power station between Earth and the moon. Lieutenant General Zhang Yulin, deputy head of the Central Military Commission's Equipment Development Department, told Xinhua News Agency on Monday that China is making a blueprint for the construction of a solar power station.
    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2016-03/10/content_23804670.htm

    I think the biggest arguement for megabucks is that SPSS systems--if made large enough and given DoD level funding world wide--can stop climate change in not one but two ways.

    1.) to replace carbon fuels
    2.) to cool the Earth.

    AGW is likely to persist for some time: http://www.americanbazaaronline.com...ming-likely-to-extend-for-thousands-of-years/

    Experts agree that sun-shades are the best way to actively reduce warming:

    Reflecting sun away from the earth by launching sunshades into space or injecting reflective manufactured particles into the stratosphere tops UEA’s list, showing the greatest potential to cool Earth back to preindustrial temperatures by 2050, when combined with serious greenhouse-gas reductions.

    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/411804/best-ways-to-reengineer-the-climate-revealed/
    SPSS doesn't cause acid rain--aerosols will--so that's a no-go.

    ONLY such a dual use sunshade/SPSS can do both. Ground based efforts cannot. Ground based efforts don't also give us a huge-de facto solar electric system once done. That's a three-fer

    If the Sun dims, or dust moves into the Sol system--or we have a super-volcano--one could then use similar architecture to reflect more sunlight on Earth to fight any ice age.

    That's four reasons to go big.

    I could go on.

    In fact--it is the extravagent ground-based approaches that should be viewed with the derision space-based approaches face from the nay-sayers. I want to see BIG SPACE kill BIG OIL

    Energy storage breakthrough? http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/R...at_makes_drones_fly_more_than_1_hour_999.html.


    PS--there is one more reason to build large things at L1--to stop superflares:
    https://arxiv.org/abs/1709.05348
    http://forum.cosmoquest.org/showthread.php?172587-Superflares-on-the-Sun
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2019
  19. Nebusj

    Nebusj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    While I am deeply skeptical of space-based solar power satellites, um ... basically every satellite, including some costing upwards of ten billion dollars, is built with the assumption it'll never be touched by human hands after launch. There's a reason no country could even send humans to anywhere but the International Space Station without considerable improvisation.

    It also strikes me as a weird bit of definition-chopping to concede that while Japan may have and launch rockets, and build and launch and operate satellites, and train and launch astronauts, that it hasn't got a space program.
     
  20. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Your Mom
    Don't let me stop you. Maybe you'll get to the point some day.