[ExI] More Thoughts on Space based solar power (alternatives)

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Wed Nov 26 16:03:19 UTC 2008

At 07:45 AM 11/26/2008, you wrote:
>On Wed, Nov 26, 2008 at 2:29 PM, BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:
> > I think you are wrong in at least three different ways.  :)
>I might well be, otherwise I would not be a bet... :-)
> > 1) Timescale.
> > Fusion power and space-based solar energy  are unlikely in our
> > lifetime. Well, maybe the young lads might live to see it. Geothermal
> > is being done in Iceland, but deep geothermal for use in all countries
> > is another very longterm project.
>Two replies to that:
>- I would not assume that the pace of their development is not
>independent from the investments,

There is no reason a crash program would not have a GW/day production 
system going on 6-7 years.  This could be kicked off by legislation 
that need not cost governments anything.  http://htyp.org/Miller%27s_method

>which brings us to point two.
>- Who said that we should be only concerned with short-term patches to
>what are civilisational problems? :-)

If we were close enough to the singularity, a short term patch would 
be enough.  Heck, it we were close enough, we could get through the 
next few years on what energy we have at hand.  But for anyone not 
watching, one of the big nanotech projects, Nanorex, was shut down 
because of the stock market collapse.  We just don't know when the 
AIs will be here (and we obtain the status of cats--at best).

> > 2) Cost.
> > All your suggestions are expensive large-scale projects requiring
> > nation-level investments.
>Sure. ITER, which is considered a "megaproject" by today's standards,
>cost a bare 10 billion USD, and yet required the support of the
>government of a dozen countries to get on its feet. Still, the US
>alone managed to invest 600+ billion USD in a very dubious military
>campaign which is may itself be considered as a rather short-sighted
>energy project...

I think the war is a good deal higher than $600 billion.  A good part 
of the current mess is to much financing on top of too little 
real.  A few hundred billion invested in an energy project would help 
restore the balance.

> > 3) Exponential power increases are not required. Future devices will
> > be more efficient and use less power.

One third of crop yields depends on energy to fix nitrogen.  It's 
around 2% of all energy people use.  The process runs about as 
efficient as theory allows.

Another process that uses another 1-2% is grinding cement to 
dust.  It has a very poor efficiency, on the order of 1%.  You can 
double the efficiency of grinding by doing it in water, but that's 
kind of useless.  The world is more than electronic devices.

>Nothing wrong in that, but what about having instead your pie and eat
>it? I'd rather go for more efficient devices *and* more energy.
>Stefano Vaj

I am with Stefano on this.


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