[ExI] Trying for a minimum technical comment

Andrew Mckee andymck35 at gmail.com
Tue Dec 18 09:59:29 UTC 2012

On Sun, 16 Dec 2012 07:34:58 +1300, Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com> wrote:

>> From: "Andrew Mckee" <andymck35 at gmail.com>
>> Is chasing 100% utilization really worth the expense of putting a PV array in orbit?
>> What am I missing here?
> Lots.  Particularly transmission cost and storage costs.

Maybe not so much, I caught your original post about StratoSolar a while back.
And like many commentators on TOD had the initial reaction that even if a tethered solution could work from an engineering perspective, the NIMBY crowd are going to a have field day tearing that proposal to shreds.

IMHO seems like a better idea to go untethered so the array can be put anywhere the NIMBYs can't object to it, and as already pointed out use the power generated to extract water from the lower atmosphere and make some kind of liquid fuel from it.
I picked liquid hydrogen, more as a convenience factor since I envisioned a lot of hydrogen being needed just to lift everything required in the first place, plus its possible use in a gazillion fuel cells when that long overdue thing called the hydrogen fuel economy actually starts becoming a significant reality.

> And just how do you propose to move power plants from the arctic?

Power plants???, if you mean shifting energy around, I would've gone for using high altitude airships shipping liquid hydrogen to where its needed much like the oil industry does currently.

If you meant the stratospheric PV arrays, I imagined the rafts being built as semi rigid modules with tilting PV panels on the roof and storage and directional thrusters bolted underneath so that the modules can transport themselves around and contribute to the yearly migration to and from the polar skies.

> I know a good deal about this topic.  http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8323

Yep, no worries, as far as I'm concerned your THE GotoGuy for advice on such matters.

> If you really want to go through the details, ask.  Though there are...

Well I am still somewhat puzzled why you seem to be a frequent supporter of space based solar despite the number of show stopping problems it faces, but seem (and it could be just me) somewhat less enthusiastic about StratoPV type approaches when it seems that they could be pressed into service for far less cost, and without any great technology breakthroughs as far as I can see.

Apologies in advance if I've simply misread your intention's, but it's in the back of my mind that maybe you have stated somewhere I've missed (entirely possible) that stratospheric structures can't work with our current level of technology due to the e.g. 180 km/h winds blowing through the stratosphere every few years wrecking any structure we can build that can float that high.


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