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Comments on SolarEn To Sell Satellite Solar Power
This idea has been kicked around by sf authors for several generations. Has the time for SBSP (space-based solar power) finally come? (Read the complete story)

"This story has been in news several times in recent memory; take a look at Solar Satellites Beam Back Energy and Solar Power Satellites Urged By Pentagon. These two stories have excellent graphics if no actual hardware in orbit."
(Bill Christensen 4/15/2009 4:30:01 PM)
"How could this possibly be more efficient than putting solar panels on the ground. Have we COVERED THE SURFACE OF THE EARTH WITH SOLAR PANELS and RUN OUT OF ROOM? No we have not."
(this is insane 4/16/2009 2:47:49 AM)
"It seems to me that I once did a back-of-the-envelope calculation that showed that we could cover the US annual energy requirements by the simple expedient of covering the state of New Mexico with solar panels. However, there are issues with anything on that scale; rare metals needed for the most efficient solar panels are one. Not to mention putting up that many panels! Also, SBSP could deliver energy to particular locations (especially high latitude locations) more effectively."
(Bill Christensen 4/16/2009 9:02:24 AM)
"Or we could just build modern nuclear power plants... but I guess proven technology only breeds contempt."
(Squires 4/16/2009 9:07:35 AM)
"I would have to imagine that the efficiency of solar panels in space would be significantly higher than those based on the ground. And solar energy is SIGNIFICANTLY more abundant ever lasting than nuclear power plants. If they could pull something like this off, it would be huge in terms of limitless CLEAN energy."
(SJ 4/16/2009 3:00:48 PM)
"Exactly, what he said. Besides, every time I see this item of news I think back to SimCity 2000, where the best power plant you can build is an SBSP one as described above. (Still couldn't find the right picture) But it's not all chocolate and flowers, it comes with a warning: "The effects of a mistargeted beam are as yet unknown.""
(Sabre Runner 4/18/2009 7:06:39 AM)
"Surely any possible "issues" with "putting up that many panels" on the ground are multiplied a thousandfold if you're trying to put the same amount of mass in geosynchronous orbit."
(still insane 4/19/2009 8:38:53 PM)
"Hehe, they're talking about this over on io9..."
(Chris Johnston 4/20/2009 2:43:25 AM)
"The neat thing about collecting solar radiation in space is that you don't have to deal with loss caused by the atmosphere, you can keep the solar collector in the sunlight almost all the time, at an optimum angle, less mass would be needed since you don't need to brace it against gravity. Also, reflective collectors could be used to focus sunlight from a greater area to improve efficiency of collectors. BUT - it is true that the current cost of lifting material payload up to low earth orbit (let alone 22,000 miles) is about $4K per pound."
(Bill Christensen 4/20/2009 4:45:16 AM)
"Chris - heh, nice one. See also the original post from the excellent Bldg Blog (Space-Based Storm Control); here's a quote from SolarEn's 2006 patent for 'Space-based power system and method of altering weather using space-born energy':

'Power system elements are launched into orbit, and the free-floating power system elements are maintained in proper relative alignment, e.g., position, orientation, and shape, using a control system. Energy from the space-based power system is applied to a weather element, such as a hurricane, and alters the weather element to weaken or dissipate the weather element. The weather element can be altered by changing a temperature of a section of a weather element, such as the eye of a hurricane, changing airflows, or changing a path of the weather element.'

Sounds like the weather integrators from Heinlein's 1940's classic Methuselah's Children. Perhaps yet another story is in order..."
(Bill Christensen 4/20/2009 5:39:06 AM)

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