NewEnergyNews: BIG SOLAR FROM EARTH ORBIT

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The new challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: A UTILITY IN THE MAKING: THE MUNICIPALIZATION OF BOULDER, COLORADO
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT NATIONAL HIGH VOLTAGE TRANSMISSION SYSTEM?
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: THE STATE OF THE U.S. WIND INDUSTRY (AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR UTILITIES)
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: HOW SACRAMENTO'S PUBLIC UTILITY IS GETTING IN THE RESIDENTIAL SOLAR BUSINESS
  • -------------------

    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: HAS APS INVENTED A ROOFTOP SOLAR BUSINESS MODEL FOR UTILITIES?
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: THE GRID NEEDS INDEPENDENT DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM OPERATORS
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: HOW SHOULD UTILITIES VALUE SOLAR?
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: IS PUERTO RICO THE NEW POSTER CHILD FOR THE UTILITY DEATH SPIRAL?
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Reindeer Stresses
  • Weekend Video: Pink Fracking
  • Weekend Video: Fighting Duke For Solar
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: ARE NATURAL GAS AND RENEWABLES THE FUTURE OF TEXAS' POWER GRID?
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: COULD FERC PUT A PRICE ON CARBON?
  • --------------------------

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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    BIG SOLAR FROM EARTH ORBIT

    Ben Bova, president emeritus of the National Space Society, is once again pitching a perennial favorite: Space-based satellite solar energy collecters in orbit beaming electricity via microwaves to enormous earth receiving stations.

    The idea has enormous appeal. It’s sort of the
    STAR WARS of the energy sector. And if the federal government can find money to research the fantasy of “clean” coal, it ought to be able to fund space power satellites (SPS), too.

    Like “clean” coal, SPS comes with lots of controversy.

    There’s no doubt satellites could be positioned to collect solar energy 24/7, thereby overcoming solar energy’s earthly challenges of periodicity and intermittency. The big issue is getting the energy to the consumer. A focused microwave beam would fry anything that happened to pass through it. A widely dispersed microwave beam would require a huge field of receivers.

    Still, the dream – born in the late 60s like so many other impossible dreams, some of which have been realized – lives on.

    At a cost of $1 or more billion, a payback period of as much as a decade, and unproven technology, financing SPS development will be extremely difficult. Bova proposes government-guaranteed loans and contracts to high-tech private space-enterprises (examples: SpaceX, Virgin Galactic) analogous to air mail-carrying contracts given to companies in the 1920s to drive innovation in flight.

    Bova: “A vigorous SPS program could provide the market that the newborn private space-launch industry needs. And remember, a rocket launcher that can put people and payloads into orbit profitably can also fly people and cargo across the Earth at hypersonic speed. Anywhere on Earth can be less than an hour's flight away. That's a market worth trillions of dollars a year…"

    Bova's pitch is addressed to the next President: "...Mr. Future President, I believe that you should make it NASA's primary goal to build and operate a demonstration model SPS, sized to deliver a reasonably impressive amount of electrical power -- say, 10 to 100 megawatts -- before the end of your second term. Such a demonstration would prove that full-scale solar power satellites are achievable…”

    See also NASA’s
    Reinventing the Solar Power Satellite

    Illustration for this post are from the Space Studies Institute

    SPS (click to enlarge)

    Energy from where the sun never sets
    Ben Bova, October 20, 2008 (Washington Post via Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

    WHO
    Ben Bova, president emeritus, National Space Society; Peter Glaser, inventer, solar power satellite (SPS)

    WHAT
    The solar power satellite (SPS) solves the problem of solar energy’s intermittency and can produce solar power-generated electricity in volumes large enough to solve all energy demand problems cost effectively.

    Artist's depiction of the microwaves beamed down. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    - SPS was invented by Peter Glaser in 1968.
    - Solar cells have been used in space to power craft since the 1950s.

    WHERE
    - SPS systems would be positioned in high earth orbits.
    - Receivers would be placed in large, low population earth regions like the Southwestern U.S., Middle East and Saharan deserts.

    WHY
    - A single SPS could deliver 5-to-10 gigawatts of solar energy-generated electricity without interruption. California’s energy consumption: 4.4 gigawatts.
    - SPS-generated electricity cost: 8-to10 cents/kilowatt-hour initially. Operating costs fall with time and economies of scale.
    - SPS system in space would be 1 mile across. Technology to build the International Space Station, about the size of a football field, exists.
    - Microwave beams carrying the collected solar energy to earth would be so widely dispersed as to pose no threat to anything passing through it, even birds.
    - Regions where there are receivers would be energy-rich and as powerful as current oil kingdoms.
    - Cost of an SPS system: $1 billion. Years to pay off: Many, maybe a decade. Payment could come through U.S.-guaranteed loans.

    Artist's depiction of SPS under construction. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Bova: “Mr. Future President…Look to the stars…You can use the powerful technology we've forged over a half-century of space exploration to solve one major down-to-earth problem -- and become the most popular president since John F. Kennedy in the process…”
    - Bova: “Americans are a frontier people at heart. We have a frontier that begins a scant hundred miles overhead and contains more riches of energy and raw materials than the entire Earth can provide. Mr. Future President, if we use these resources wisely, we can assure prosperity and peace for the world -- and you have the opportunity to write your name in capital letters across the skies.”

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