[ExI] Written for another list

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Sun Jul 29 15:51:26 UTC 2012

But I though it might interest a few people here.

As most of you know, I have worked for a number of years on solutions
to the carbon and energy problems.  Less than six months ago, it
occurred to me that there was a solution, one offering power on the
scale of tens of TW and cost down into the 1-2 cents per kWh.

It's based on on old idea, power satellites, and a new "Black Swan"
development from electronics, high efficiency solid state lasers.

If we had one power satellite equipped with propulsion lasers, it
would lower the cost of raising parts to GEO for more satellites to
under $100/kg.  At that price, the cost of power from space falls to
under 2 cents per kWh.  That would allow making synthetic liquid
transportation fuels for $1-2 per gallon.

The problem is building the first power satellite without cheap laser
propulsion.  However, it is so valuable in the role of laser
propulsion that an economic model shows it would be paid off in a few
years from the profits of selling relatively low cost power plants
even if we have to build the first one with relatively conventional

The energy payback from power satellites is short, two months, and the
profit is so high that an initial 100 GW/year business could triple in
capacity every year with only ten percent of production invested in
more laser capacity.

The model might not be correct, but if it is, then it looks like
humanity could painlessly quit using fossil fuels in no more than two
decades.  If we still have warming problems, either CO2 could be
removed from the air and stored as synthetic oil back in the ground or
sunshades at L2 can be used to block as much sunlight as desired.

Amazing what grown up versions of the tiny laser diodes in CD players can do.


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