I just read this on PHYSORG - http://www.physorg.com/news172224356The Japanning are planning to build a 2 trillion yen ($US21 Billion) orbiting solar array which will ‘beam’ energy back down to earth. Its expected to take 3 decades to complete and will power a measly 300,000 homes. :no: Not to mention that the electricity generated is predicted to be ‘exorbitantly expensive’
It seems to me to be a rushed scramble in the wrong direction for a new power source, disregarding the more popular options like normal solar energy and of course the big one - Fusion.
Imagine what would happen if $21 billion dollars was thrown into Fusion development/research, it would be a massive boost and could help us take that final step needed in unlocking Fusion technology for the world, resulting in a few more than 300,000 homes being powered
In my opinion this solar array is a massive oversight, its too expensive, will take too long to build, is too risky and in the end the rewards are next to useless.
Lets hope this idea doesn’t get any further than an article on a physics website, something for us to maybe look back at in 20 or so years and laugh at? I hope so…
Companies and Governments announce projects all the time for things decades ahead, it doesn’t mean thay happen and I expect this not to go to final deployment. Spend money on the research and feasibility but not implement. If these type of projects always go ahead we would have bases on the moon and mars. Do we? Of course not, reality kicks in.
at least until solar isn’t so drastically impractical.
Solar is a great source of energy. However, you don’t need an elaborate project to beam light down from space. Like others have said above, this project looks like a waste of money.
However, solar energy is a good source of energy. Current solar panels are severely insufficient. Rather than dumping money into this, they should at least put a little money into making more efficient solar panels.
Or better yet, try to putting some money into new energy sources (wind, nuclear, fusion, etc).
Wind power using those massive turbines aren’t the answer either, it’s basically visual pollution and takes up a lot of space like filling up our country’s grand vistas, not good for preserving space for the animals.
I think what will be the solution would be little solar panels with high efficiency (situated on space in the cities), and little wind generating units (also utilizing space in places like parking lots and rooftops).
This stuff we have plenty of time to develop, our nation still has well over 100 years of coal left.
this already exists, though in very early stages of infancy. ive seen many proposals that outline different ways of harnessing the wind and solar power that runs through cities and the expanses of un(der)used urban space such as parking lots and rooftops. it only makes sense, i think. until our cities become completely efficient, elaborate and uber-expensive schemes should be set aside until theyre really needed.
I’m aware of their existance, Popular Science has outlined a whole bunch of them over recent years, putting wind generators inside transmission towers for example. There’s also been several little wind generators with names such of “turby” you see on shows on the Science Channel.
Also, when it comes to more efficient use of space, there is the idea of 30 story vertical farms, this is pretty much what will be needed considering the plans to turn millions of acres of farming and grazing land back into forests and other native habitat types, which by the way will become good places for nature lovers eventually.
A couple of points:
Technology is usually expensive at first, but usually gets cheaper when utilized more. This is a first time deal, much money will get spent on R&D , screw-ups, learning the hard way, etc. Later efforts will be cheaper.
Other tech could make this much cheaper, say carbon nanotube “space elevators” to put things into orbit, or even privately built rockets, price reduction through competition.
Fusion is one of those things that looks good in theory but is pretty tough- perhaps solar induced fusion via this method?
I think superconductor research would be a huge boon to energy matters as well, but again its a highly theoretical area.
Oh come on CD. You mean to tell me that those fields of wheat/corn or whatever in Kansas that does on for as far as the eye can see is going to be grown in hundreds of 30 story glass towers! The cost of grain is going to skyrocket (get it) to pay for the cost of building these towers and maintaining them.
As far as power production goes, after doing research into alternative energy sources a while back I found that oceanic wave generators look very promising. They have minimal environmental impact; no fuel, no pollution, they don’t appear to interfere with aquatic wildlife, and the fish seem to like the anchors on the bottom forming something like an artificial reef. Visual scale comparisons put them as almost invisible from the coastline, especially when compared to off-shore wind farms. The buoys protrude a couple of meters from the water’s surface, where the wind turbine has something like a 20 meter wingspan suspended a good bit above the water. Scotland has invested a substantial amount of money into a system already. I found that few books have been written over the years on the subject, and it appears to be a great alternative source of energy.
Wikipedia has a nice article on it:
Nuclear power may not emit carbon pollution, but a number of scientists I’ve spoken with just aren’t comfortable with the cooling pools filled with spent radioactive fuel that have sprung up at nuclear reactor facilities. There is a lot of long-life waste that is produced, spent fuel among other things and they have no long term solution to dealing with it. They kind of twitched when I suggested we build passive bleed thermoelectric generators out of the stockpiles. Something about the risk of releasing nasty isotopes. I just think it’s a shame that all of the energy from residual fission is being lost to the environment as heat without it doing any work.
Don’t forget the massive piles of uranium tailings left over from mining operations. They tend to blow about and get into the water table, Blinky the fish and all that. :eek:
A nuclear engineer I knew told me an interesting story about fusion power. It’s been one of those things that’s perpetually 5 to 10 years away without ever really getting there. Apparently some time back, a “breakthrough” in the technology was announced, and it was about to get popular again. He realized that investments could be made in certain materials associated with work on fusion power, due to the increase in demand for the metals that was bound to occur. I don’t know if he made anything off of it though.