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"Japan's Moonshot? $21 Billion Invested in Space-Based Solar Power"

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posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 12:20 PM
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The Link



Moving Towards Space-Based Solar Power
Solar power is very green, and the great big fusion reactor in the sky generates more than enough energy for all of humanity's needs. But if you put solar panels on the surface of the Earth, you have to deal with two big problems: 1) Solar energy bounces off the atmosphere, especially on cloudy days (see pic below), and 2) you don't get power at night. Engineers have had a theoretical solution for both of these problems for a few decades: Put your solar collectors in geostationary orbit (22,300 miles/35,700 km) where they'll get direct sunlight 24/7, and beam down the energy using microwaves. Progress has been slow so far, but Japan is shaking things up.


Sounds cool to me!



The Longest Journey Starts With a Single Step
Bloomberg is reporting that "Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and IHI Corp. will join a 2 trillion yen ($21 billion) Japanese project intending to build a giant solar-power generator in space within three decades and beam electricity to earth [...] Japan is developing the technology for the 1-gigawatt solar station, fitted with four square kilometers of solar panels, and hopes to have it running in three decades"


Awesome! No big surprise here. Japan and Germany have reunited in recent years to become the axis of solar power.

I look forward to hearing more on this as it develops!

Enjoy.




posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 02:44 PM
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I know the article addressed this, saying the microwaves would be too diffuse to cause damage, but doesn't it seem rather environmentally dangerous to be microwaving our planet?



posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 03:36 PM
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The idea of generating solar power 24 hours a day is really excellent stuff. I applaud anyone willing to make the commitment to this research.

Id o have to agree thought he Thought of beaming the energy to earth in the form of 'micro-waves' is a bit scary.

I mean, we all saw 'Gremlins' right? You know when 'mom' sprays the evil gremlin in the face with big spray and he retreats, poorly, onto the microwave, where sweet mom locks him in and turns it on. You know, and the the little evil gremlin blows up?

My grandpa put a potato wrapped in tinfoil in the microwave once. He use to also keep butterfingers in the refrigerator next to a stash of Eskimo pies. I love chocolate. Maybe I should run to the store and get some chocolate.



posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 03:54 PM
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I'm all for relieving our dependence upon polluting, non-renewable resources for our source of Energy. I'm a big proponent of Solar Power. So, I'm entirely behind the JAXA Project, since I'm not one of the tax payers bleeding out the nose for it.

The reason I say such is that is the cost to accomplish the same thing at far less the price:

A good comparison would be California's Edison Project to use traditional Solar Panels to provide 24/7 Power to approximately 300,000 homes (250 Megawatts/Hour) as the JAXA Project will utilize Solar Panels in space using Microwave Transmitters to beam that power to a Terrestrial Receiving Station to provide 24/7 Power to approximately 300,000 homes (250 Megawatts/Hour).

California's Edison Project using Traditional Solar Panels costs $875 Million for a cost of $3,500,000/MWH in Capital Costs. That puts it at the same Capital Cost per MWH as Coal which currently provides 49% of the power in the United States.

The JAXA Project which utilizes Solar via Microwave Transmitter from Space would costs $21 Billion for a cost of $84,000,000/MWH in Capital Costs. This puts Solar via Microwave Transmitter from Space on par with the most costly of Power Plants, being Hydroelectric Dams.

Why pay 24 times for the same net result using a method that is both untested and unproven over a method that is tested and proven? Let's not even consider the high cost of Maintenance, Repairs, damage by Orbital Collisions, destruction via aborted launch or by Micro-meteorites, and unforeseeable effects upon our Atmosphere and Environment. It just doesn't make much sense why a country would rather pay out the nose for the same thing but with much more added risk. Whatever happened to K.I.S.S.?

Perhaps Japan is shrouded in clouds like London and Seattle most of the time.

Like I said, since I'm not paying for it with my Tax Dollars, then more power to the Japanese for their JAXA Project. However, if it were here in the U.S. of A. I'd be demanding a Senate Sub-Committee hearing on why we have to pay 24 times more for an experimental project to bring us Electricity when we can achieve the same thing using the same Solar technology reliably and without the expense and risk.

[edit on 3-9-2009 by fraterormus]



posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 04:35 PM
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reply to post by fraterormus
 


I think another cost factor that has to be taken into perspective is also real estate. California and USA may not have to worry about it as much, but Japan and the small islands that form the country cannot physically afford to put enough ground-based solar panels up to generate enough usable elctricity.

But beside that, I agree with you. There must certainly be implications to sending microwaves through the atmosphere. Not to mention problems that they may not be able to notice now, that could effect not only us, but the entire ecosystem. Aren't microwaves a form of radiation?



posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 04:39 PM
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I have always said that we should go fully nuclear.The french build the best and safest nuclear power stations in the world.I actually think they are building some for America.In any case it's the most viable way to meet the demands that we will need in the future.Especially with China and India on the rise.Solar power is nice and all...and who knows maybe on the local level it could be put to good use.But it simply wont cut it for tomorrows world.

[edit on 3-9-2009 by Solomons]



posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 05:10 PM
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reply to post by Solomons
 


sadly the waste product of nuclear is capable of destroying the planet even in small amounts.

while the energy production is enviable the potential impacts vastly out-weigh the good.



posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 06:04 PM
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Originally posted by Animal
sadly the waste product of nuclear is capable of destroying the planet even in small amounts.

while the energy production is enviable the potential impacts vastly out-weigh the good.


Since 1977 Nuclear energy has gotten a bad reputation throughout the world. We stopped building new plants and abandoned plants that were being built at that time, and other countries such as Germany entirely dismantled all of theirs.

Waste was but one of the many concerns about Nuclear energy of yesteryear.

However, the Chinese have been developing backpack-sized Nuclear Power Generators that are entirely closed systems. All the waste that they produce is recycled and reused by the system itself. They are entirely safe and do not have any chance of melt-down. Best of all, they cannot be used to refine nuclear materials such as Plutonium and Uranium to be used to make WMDs. (You can't even make a dirty bomb from their contents!)

Nuclear energy has matured a lot since the late 1970s and deserves a second chance to be considered as a viable alternative to other power sources that use non-renewable resources...especially since Pollution and Waste produced by Nuclear Power Plants can now be a thing of the past (as long as the designers and tax payers aren't willing to cut corners to save a few bucks).

Still, I personally think that until we discover Cold Fusion or are able to draw electricity passively from excited free electrons in the air around us (which Tesla could demonstrably do), Solar is definitely the best way to go...even if current Solar Cells are only 30-32% efficient (with 40-42% efficiency cells ready to be mass produced). On a large scale Solar can still produce far more Megawatts/Hour (MWH) than most traditional Power Plants, for the same cost, and the same amount of Real Estate.

And SlasherofVeils, I think you are absolutely correct. I didn't consider lack of Real Estate in downtown Tokyo. Even mounting Solar Panels on the tops of every Skyscraper in downtown Tokyo you'd probably not enough to power Tokyo. That's a good point I hadn't considered and overlooked.



posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 06:14 PM
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reply to post by fraterormus
 


sorry there is no such thing as 'no chance' of melt down or contamination. the waste products of this energy source make co2 look like cotton candy at the county fair.

it is therefore an un-sustainable energy source.

we have options that would allow us to generate energy without threatening the well being of the entire planet.

that is a simple fact.



posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 06:21 PM
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Originally posted by Animal
The Link



Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and IHI Corp. will join a 2 trillion yen ($21 billion) Japanese project intending to build a giant solar-power generator in space within three decades [...]

What is it with politicians these days! Now they are spending the taxpayers' money to provide free electricity to space? Space doesn't even generate any property tax revenue; space doesn't even vote! This is scandalous!

What's next? Is Brazil going to start a $10 billion project to provide Fraggle Rock with air conditioning?

Seriously though, you can't beam power to earth because there is "stuff" in the way that tends to get hot or break down chemically. Stuff like atmosphere, water vapor, and birds.

Jon

[edit on 9.3.2009 by Voxel]



posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 08:30 PM
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I was expecting that this would fry birds and whatnot in its path, but the article claims this won't happen because the beams are too diffuse, so that's definitely a mark in its favour. I'd also be quite surprised if this turns out to be cost effective, though, but as was mentioned, Japan's real estate is expensive, to say the least, and they don't really have much in the way of natural resources like coal to burn, and I don't think they have many rivers or waterfalls or things for hydro.

It's a bit off topic, but on the subject of nuclear power that a few brought up, I think that nuclear power is a great way to go. I think it is the best of the nonrenewable energy sources. The nuclear waste is definitely an issue, as are meltdowns, though the only meltdown we've ever had was Chernobyl, and that was because their personnel were undertrained. The French developed some sort of reprocessing technique for nuclear waste where they can use up some of the waste and make usable fuel out of it again, which will reduce the problem, but it won't make it go away. I forget the name of the company, but it's huge in France. (I think it starts with an A)



posted on Sep, 4 2009 @ 12:47 AM
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Originally posted by DragonsDemesne
I think it is the best of the nonrenewable energy sources. The nuclear waste is definitely an issue...


I agree, nuclear fission power is the best we got (until HH Schmitt works out He3 fusion).

The main problem is the waste - but we only use a small percentage of our rods thanks to Environuts trying to prevent melt-downs.

If it wasn't for some environmental laws (that France doesn't have because they are smart), we would be able to us most of the rod. This means we would actually have sixteen-times less waste than we have now and be in no greater danger of meltdown than any reactor in France.

It would also reduce the cost of Nuclear power. Environmentalists don't want that, because it means we might actually use it.






Just wait until one of these SBP systems goes off-target and wipes out a kindergarten...






posted on Sep, 4 2009 @ 08:53 AM
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There was actually a decent article in a magazine I read about nuclear fission waste, and a government program being set up to store more nuclear waste longterm. It did mention that reprocessing the waste for more energy is entirely possible, but more costly, and more dangerous.
Now that it has me thinking of it, I need to locate that magazine.

I still am wary of the whole microwaving energy to earth thing. I am sure it is more complicated then my current visual thought processing of a giant microwave oven encompassing earth
, but it does still seem dangerous. Ok so EVEN IF it is safe to birds, etc., what about a cloud? Couldn't it theoretically melt a cloud or weather formation and alter the climate in the immediate area?

What if a plane flew through the microwave beam?

What if some asshole decided to cover the area where the receiver is with a giant iron plate?

What if the satellite sending the energy got knocked off course by 1° or even 1'? What would the implications be?

Long term effects? Microwaves are a form of radiation... would it be like someone living under a power line if they were near the microwave zone?

Mankind's "act first, deal with the consequences later" policy is going to be the death of us all eventually



posted on Sep, 4 2009 @ 03:52 PM
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From what the article said, I don't think the microwaves would be any more harmful than other forms of electromagnetic radiation, like, say, a cellphone tower. Now, I'm not saying that's 100% safe, but I am saying that unless you spend a long time in the area, you likely wouldn't ever suffer any ill effects.

Microwaves are just one particular frequency range of radiation, just as cellphones use another, radios use yet another, X-rays another band, and so on.

From what I understand from the article, I wouldn't worry about flying a plane through it or walking underneath it, but I wouldn't build my house under it.

SlasherOfVeils: If the satellite's position were knocked out of whack slightly, I don't think it would cause any problem as long as it were corrected within a reasonable time.

It's hard to be sure without some more hard numbers, but from the article it sounds safe. (Doesn't mean it is though, I could be wrong)



posted on Sep, 4 2009 @ 07:12 PM
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Originally posted by DragonsDemesne
Microwaves are just one particular frequency range of radiation, just as cellphones use another, radios use yet another, X-rays another band, and so on.


I think if they could send electricity wirelessly, through a particular frequency range of any kind similar to cellphones or radio waves, we would have had wireless electric hookups already in use on earth. How the article is worded, it seems like either they didn't figure out how to transfer the energy yet, or they think it is safe enough to be proposed to further testing. It is admittently short for a news article though, still something of entirely conceptual design and not quite workable yet


Either way, definately something to keep an eye on, and I would be most interested to reading how exactly they plan on "microwaving" energy down to earth.



posted on Sep, 5 2009 @ 02:03 PM
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reply to post by SlasherOfVeils
 


It's technically possible to send electricity wirelessly, but there is a lot of wasted power (i.e. it fries everything in its path lol) so it hasn't ever caught on. I think from the article that by making the device really big and then spreading out the power over a large area, they are getting around the problem of frying stuff. The inefficiency will still be there, unless they found a way to address that, but since it's all coming from the sun anyway, even the unwasted energy that we get to use is more than we would have had.



posted on Sep, 5 2009 @ 10:05 PM
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.The french build the best and safest nuclear power stations in the world.I actually think they are building some for America.In any case it's the most viable way to meet the demands that we will need in the future

The EPR (European Pressurized Reactor), General Electric / Hitachi ESBWR, & the Westinghouse AP1000, are, or will be the best reactors in the world. IMO, the ESBWR is the best due to some of its design... Reactors of all of those types will be commissioned in the United States.

www.nrc.gov...


sorry there is no such thing as 'no chance' of melt down or contamination.


Maximum core damage frequency for the newer Nuclear plants are on the order of 2 x 10^-7 per year, with reactors that will be commissioned in the next decade reaching 3 x 10^-8 incidents per year. Therefore, the chance of a meltdown is merely hypothetical, realistically impossible - just the way hydroelectric dams found in California can kill 250,000 people or more if they collapsed (FAR worse than ANY meltdown).


the waste products of this energy source make co2 look like cotton candy at the county fair.


Your average 1000mw coal plant generates 6,500,000t of Co2, 24,000t of SO2 / NO2, 250,000t of ash including 400t worth of heavy metals including, Mercury, Cadmium, Lead, Arsenic, Vanadium, and Uranium - which are completely uncontained; studies have found that coal plants introduce far more radiation into the environment than Nuclear plants. Nuclear power on the other hand creates, 450t of low level waste, 300t of mid level waste, and 27t of high level waste (which can be reduced to 3 cubic metres (8 tonne) if reprocessed) - this is contained relatively easily on site. Furthermore, coal mining in the past 5 years has killed 25,000 people in China. And wind power is not a whole not better for the energy generated.

Even US Capital building is so radioactive that it could not be certified as a Nuclear plant as it is too radioactive.


we have options that would allow us to generate energy without threatening the well being of the entire planet.

that is a simple fact.

Name ONE (apart from Nuclear).


sadly the waste product of nuclear is capable of destroying the planet even in small amounts.

No, it isn't, as shown by every accident in history.


The nuclear waste is definitely an issue, as are meltdowns, though the only meltdown we've ever had was Chernobyl, and that was because their personnel were undertrained.

Chernobyl occurred because of piss poor operating personal and a piss poor reactor design. Exclude anything to do with the Soviet bloc, and then look at Nuclear power. Make sure to include the Navies of the world too. It is no issue.


The French developed some sort of reprocessing technique for nuclear waste where they can use up some of the waste and make usable fuel out of it again,

The United States had an enormously successful reprocessing program. The company that pioneered it was DuPont. It is now Illegal in the US for some reason. Food for thought: if fuel was reprocessed, total high level waste from one person through a normal life times could be easily held in your hand.

[edit on 6/9/2009 by C0bzz]



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