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One 10 MW Power Tube will contribute the following over one year on a world-wide average compared to the equivalent present methods of power production: * Eliminate the equivalent of burning of 1,000,000 gallons of fossil fuels. * Eliminate the equivalent of burning of 1,250 tons of coal for steam production. * Eliminate the production of 400 tons of pollutants into the atmosphere. * Will not contribute to contamination of underground aquifers, acid rain, or global warming. * Does not use any atomic fuels.
The total cost of the shuttle program has been $145 billion USD as of early 2005, and is estimated to be $174 billion when the shuttle retires in 2010. NASA's budget for 2005 allocated 30%, or $5 billion, to space shuttle operations; this was decreased in 2006 to a request of $4.3 billion. Per-launch costs can be measured by dividing the total cost over the life of the program (including buildings, facilities, training, salaries, etc) by the number of launches. With 115 missions (as of 6 August 2006), and a total cost of $150 billion ($145 billion as of early 2005 + $5 billion for 2005, this gives approximately $1.3 billion per launch. Another method is to calculate the incremental (or marginal) cost differential to add or subtract one flight — just the immediate resources expended/saved/involved in that one flight. This is about $60 million U. S. dollars. Early cost estimates of $118 per pound ($260/kg) of payload were based on marginal or incremental launch costs, and based on 1972 dollars and assuming a 65,000 pound (30 000 kg) payload capacity. Correcting for inflation, this equates to roughly $36 million incremental per launch costs; today's actual incremental per launch costs of $60 million are about two thirds more than this.
How much stored energy?
As the potential to utilise the energy stored as heat in the shallow earth’s crust has become apparent, various agencies have begun to estimate the amount of energy that may be accessible. A recent report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, looking at energy stored in rocks in the USA between 3 and 10km deep, estimated 13.3 million exaJoules (1EJ = 1018 Joules = 277 million megaWatt hours) of conduction-dominated ‘Enhanced Geothermal System’ (EGS) resource in crystalline basement rock formations. EGS as used in the USA means the same as EGP used by KUTh. This greatly exceeded the energy stored in other heat systems, such as volcanic and ‘hot springs’ types of areas and is 13,000 times the consumption of primary energy in the United States in 2005. Of course the economically extractable amount will be much lower. The study attempted to estimate a recoverable EGS resource and if only 2% of the total resource was recoverable, it was found that this would amount to approximately 280,000 exaJoules (78 million million MWh) or 2,800 times the 2005 US energy consumption.
A similarly detailed study has not been done for Australia, but preliminary figures from Geoscience Australia estimate that Australia’s hot rock energy between the depth corresponding to a minimum temperature of 150°C and a maximum depth of 5,000 m is approximately 1.2 million exaJoules (333 million million MWh) or 20,000 years of Australia’s primary energy use in 2005; again this is an estimated total resource figure and not an estimate of recoverable or economic energy. This resource figure is currently under review.