Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What could go wrong?

As seen on Instapundit:
California's biggest energy utility announced a deal Monday to purchase 200 megawatts of electricity from a startup company that plans to beam the power down to Earth from outer space, beginning in 2016.


Solaren would generate the power using solar panels in Earth orbit and convert it to radio-frequency transmissions that would be beamed down to a receiving station in Fresno, PG&E said. From there, the energy would be converted into electricity and fed into PG&E's power grid.


Solaren's chief executive officer, Gary Spirnak, said the project would be the first real-world application of space solar power, a technology that has been talked about for decades but never turned into reality.

"While a system of this scale and exact configuration has not been built, the underlying technology is very mature and is based on communications satellite technology," he said in a Q&A posted by PG&E. A study drawn up for the Pentagon came to a similar conclusion in 2007. However, that study also said the cost of satellite-beamed power would likely be significantly higher than market rates, at least at first.

Talk about your unintended consequences. This technology is being developed to reduce the use of carbon based electricity, but it will directly cause global warming. How can concentrating and converting solar energy, then sending it to the planet not cause warming?

Granted, the warming will be on a very small scale, but it will be warming nonetheless. And probably warm the earth more than the CO2 from producing the same electricity using coal.


Dad29 said...


They're going to use an asbestos-lined pipe to shield the atmosphere during the download.


Pete said...

Actually, that solar energy was heading for the planet anyway. Concentrating it and sending it to the planet will significantly reduce the amount absorbed by the atmosphere. The panel can't put out more energy than it receives. In fact, it's likely to put out about 30% of what it receives. So that's a 70% reduction right there. If say half of what is sent actually makes it to the planet, that's 15% of the total energy absorbed by the atmosphere. Significantly less.