This evening I submitted the following letter to Senator Obama through the Other Thoughts and Questions page on his campaign website. I will continue to contact both campaigns on the topic of space-based solar power for the duration of the election season.
I would once again encourage each of you to contact our presidential candidates and everyone else that you can think of and present them with space-based solar power. Before we can hope to see it included in anyone’s plan for a clean energy future, we must break through and make it a part of our national conversation.
I have read your plan for a clean energy future and I agree that is what our national goal must be, in very general terms. I also agree with the need for major national investment in commercial-scale renewable energy technologies and extensive research and development. I am very concerned, however, on several key aspects of your plan. A key part of your plan appears to hinge on biofuels, which depend on a huge amount of input energy, fertilizers and pesticides to produce significant quantities and often carry the unintended negative consequences to our food sources that we are now starting to see worldwide. Your plan’s emphasis on global warming remediation is also of great concern to me. I personally believe that the warming trend that is being detected is only minorly anthropogenic and the huge investments you are proposing will have only a minor effect on the trend many years in the future. Lastly, your plan’s emphasis on mandated efficiency improvements will cost the taxpayers dearly and mostly serve to facilitate an ever increasing total energy consumption. Significantly missing from your energy plan are efforts to exploit untapped domestic fossil fuel caches, which I believe we are going to need as an “energy bridge” to that clean energy future. It is going to take a huge amount of energy in the next 20 to 50 years to develop the new energy technologies and infrastructures that are required to carry our civilization forward.
I would offer a clean, sustainable and scalable solution with great potential known as space-based solar power. Large arrays of solar panels would be put in geosynchronous orbit to collect intense solar energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This energy would be transported to the surface of the planet in the form of low intensity microwave beams, where it would be collected by rectifying antennas (rectennas), converted to electricity and channeled directly into the existing power distribution grid. Once in place, the input energy required is practically nothing compared to the steady stream of clean, renewable and scalable energy output. My website, Citizens for Space Based Solar Power (c-sbsp.org), has a good amount of information on this technology and links to many other great resources and groups.
The National Security Space Office published an updated report on the feasibility of this technology in October of 2007. While space-based solar power will be a complex and costly engineering project, no major technical or scientific breakthroughs are needed. The huge increase in oil prices since then makes the business case for exploring space-based solar power that much more attractive.
I invite you to learn more about space-based solar power and strongly consider making it a key aspect of your proposal for a clean energy future.