Solar power stations in space could be the answer to our energy needs

Jul 30, 2020
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The article said a prototype solar sail tile weight 280 grams, "similar to card" - probably meant a deck of cards. If we don't get off our butts and get it done, another country will. At least Starship provides the feasibility for the project. Hope Musk gets involved.
Yes, it sounds like science fiction because it is. No surprise the space enthusiasts keep tossing this idea around - vastly increasing launch capabilities and human presence in space is seen as desirable in and of itself - but there has to be a credible plan, that does not put that ahead of the objective of clean energy for Earth.

Using that concern for Earth to advance other objectives is not wrong in and of itself - people concerned about poverty and lack of opportunity for example seek to use the transition to clean energy to advance that objective, whilst entrepreneurs and investors want to use it for opportunity to profit. But using widespread concern for climate for other purposes walks a difficult line - especially if the overarching objective is to leave Earth (and it's intractable problems) behind.

If it fails to be economically viable - and all indications are it is not viable - the country that commits it's butt to such a project will get it bitten. Even if a credible business plan emerges it is likely to involve a very, very large pre-investment that cannot get tangible results for a long time; too long a timeline to be a credible clean energy solution that can compete with improving and emerging energy storage or - for grand, one size fits all solutions - options like nuclear.

And the question I ask every time space solar power gets bandied around is - if it is feasible to beam energy from space to Earth, why is it not viable to beam it up from one part of Earth and back down someplace else? Is the energy tranmission part so inefficient that it cannot?

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