|MadSci Network: Astronomy|
This idea has been discussed on many occasions and in many different forums.(*) The conclusion is always that it is an interesting idea but that there are too many dangers, difficulties and unknowns with this concept, at least here at the Earth. Among the concerns are: 1. To generate enough electricity the solar collector would need to be very large, many miles in each dimension. It is not clear how to create and stably maintain such a large structure that must efficiently collect solar energy. 2. How would we transfer this energy to the surface of the Earth? Would we convert it to microwave or laser wavelengths to beam to the Earth's surface? To be an efficient method, the power density should be very high. The circuitry and equipment required to do this are generally inefficient and usually require a lot of maintenance. 3. What effects would the shadow of this large structure have on the Earth and on the Earth's atmosphere? What effects would this high-density power beam have on the Earth's atmosphere? What effects would storms and other atmospheric events have on the power beam? How can we guarantee that airplanes and birds will stay out of the areas where these beams are present? Who would be responsible if the beam's focus point were to wander and cause damage or harm? Obviously some of these concerns are irrelevant at the moon or at other planets. Nevertheless, it appears that the safest and most cost effective methods of power generation remain those already in use: i.e., fossil fuel powered, hydroelectric and windmill powered and nuclear powered generators. (*) NOTE: This is an especially good topic for groups of appropriate scientists and engineers to discuss during coffee breaks and at after work get-togethers. It is also a good discussion topic when they are "bouncing ideas around", without regard to scientific or engineering limitations, as they try to develop new ideas to for research funding. Important breakthroughs and developments frequently result from ideas that, at first, seemed whimsical or frivolous. All of the above represent my interpretations and views and not those of my employer.
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