[ExI] [Bulk] Re: Thoughts on Space based solar power (alternatives)

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 23 08:15:23 UTC 2008

--- On Sat, 11/22/08, Paul D. Fernhout <pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
> That's about 10 watts per square foot, or about 100
> watts per square meter, so about 10% efficient. A little low
> perhaps. On the other hand, there is also energy efficiency
> -- it is cheaper to get a new efficient fridge or
> PlayStation than make panels to power the old one. Also, if
> we are generating electricity, and use it to power electric
> cars, we don't need as much energy for transportation
> because burning oil is only about 30% efficient or less in
> cars, whereas using electricity to move cars is near 90%
> efficient, so you only need 1/3 the panels that you might
> think you need for that segment.

Yes. Conspicuous consumption should be ugly. Effiency should be sexy. 
> Anyway, these are all ballpark estimates, but clearly our
> society is capable of ground based industrial efforts on
> this scale. So, you can maybe see why I discount the ever
> repeated meme of "renewables do not scale". Again,
> who benefits from saying that?

They scale just fine in my opinion. They just don't bode well for certain hydraulic empires.

> Also, these are proof-of-concept calculations; real word
> renewable use would be a mix of a variety of types depending
> on local conditions, like wood (which some people like), PV,
> solar-thermal, solar power towers, microhydro, biomass
> conversion, OTEC, ground loop heat pumps, geothermal, algae
> ponds, wind power, wave power, and so on. And maybe even
> some Solar Space Satellite power. The biggest compelling
> situation I heard for SPS, by the way, at an SSI conference
> was powering aviation with it. I think there may be some
> merit to that, as aircraft could be lighter and the
> satellites track the aircraft and beam energy to it. Anyway,
> so there may be a role for SPS as one of a diversity of
> sources. :-) Or again, SPS might be useful for laser launch
> facilities or some other large industrial facilities which
> are off the grid. And that all also ignores this talk by
> Robert Bussard on alternative fusion energy:

Well I would throw *some* money at everything and see what takes root. It is the last hurrah after all. The future war economy, should we fail, can take care of itself.

> Anyway, again, it is one thing to suggest space based power
> collection might be cheaper, it is another to say renewable
> ground based power production is impossible on a large
> scale.

It isn't. We just have to find it. There are alt.energy companies out there figuring out ways to make biodiesel from vertical stacks of algae. They project this will take 2% the real estate of soybeans and does not need to be on arable land. Some carbon emissions but a lot less than burning methane to extract oil from tar shale and sand, just to burn that. Plus growing the algae absorbs carbon too. 

> Say, maybe we should let those Detroit car companies fail
> so we can convert the assembly lines to making solar panels
> and their mounting hardware? :-)

I wonder if they even know what they would do *if* we bailed them out? Come out with the 2010 collection of SUV's? Hell if they are smart, they would be voluntarily converting their entire inventories to hybrids or flex-fuels, even while they were asking for a handout. The unions should be helping to pay for this as a precondition of any bail out. 

> Anyway, I'm going to this in some length to help resist
> some of the doom and gloom here. I actually agree there may
> well be doom and gloom, but that would only be from social
> issues and crazy wars, not from any technical limits of what
> we can do to create abundance for everyone even with just
> today's technology.

I agree. Heaven on earth is an engineering problem. It's only money and politics that make a monkey-hell of this place. But hey the sun is always shining *somewhere*, right? :-)

Stuart LaForge

"It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision." - Helen Keller


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