Space Solar Power: Much More Than Clean Energy
Posted by Coyote on July 16, 2007
In a recent posting to washingtonpost.com, author Steven Mufson pessimistically asserts in “Climate Change Debate Hinges on Economics:”
“Because of the enormous cost of addressing global warming, the energy legislation considered by Congress so far will make barely a dent in the problem, while farther-reaching climate proposals stand a remote chance of passage.”
I tend to agree with Mufson.
We must not kid ourselves; nothing is a more farther-reaching climate proposal than space-based solar power. If pursued for that reason alone–especially as a big government program–I believe nothing would come of it. Not to despair. There are many more reasons to develop space-based solar power, and another way of going about it.
We must always keep in mind that space-based solar power systems confer additional independence from foreign energy sources and the entanglements they so often engender. Also, as traditional energy resources become scarcer and competition for them increase, energy provided by space-based solar power systems help reduce the incentives for energy wars. In addition, eventually we will be able to broadcast power from space to places in dire need of energy such as sites of natural or manmade disasters, war zones, and areas of the world without much infrastructure
Space critics will point out that developing clean energy alternatives such as ground-based solar, wind, and nuclear power can be completed sooner using off-the-shelf technology, and probably deliver energy at a cheaper cost to the consumer. I’m not going to argue with that. I hope all nations seriously and aggressively pursue such alternatives! But another really good reason for pursuing space-based solar power is because doing so advances the art of spacefaring. The infrastructure required to make space-based solar power a reality–cheaper, reliable, reusable spacelift, on-orbit assembly, operating enormous space structures, etc–are capabilities in the critical technology paths to exploration and the full commercialization of space. Alternatives such as ground-based solar power, wind, and nuclear power are good and necessary, but leave us trapped on Earth. There is a universe of untapped resources beyond.
We’ve all heard it…”Why go to space when all of our problems are right here on Earth?” For starters, we want to go to space because the solutions to many of our problems can be found in space; energy, raw resources, and other places to live. Tapping into the abundant solar energy that is ceaslessly blowing past Earth represents the easiest way to begin solving our problems here on Earth from space…and leaves in place educational, industrial, and commercial infrastructures that will make all future endeavors in space easier.
Our goal is to make space-based solar power affordable by the customer and profitable for the company who trades it. The National Security Space Office is working with our friends in the Office of Space Commercialization in the Department of Commerce to develop space-based solar power in the commercial sector. We seek to incentivize the pathway for the commercial sector to develop space-based solar power–tapping into an industry of potentially trillions of dollars annually.
We want to leverage off of other space programs already in the pipeline to develop the infrastrucutre we require, and make prudent investments in niche technologies to help close the business case for space-based solar power. The last thing we want is a large government program that will invariably become a political hot potato(e)!
Your comments are most welcomed!
This entry was posted on July 16, 2007 at 5:00 pm and is filed under Commercial Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Environmental Challenges of Space-Based Solar Power, Political Challenges to Space-Based Solar Power, Study-Related. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.