Will Fossil Fuels Be A “Bridge to Nowhere”?

Will Fossil Fuels Be A “Bridge to Nowhere”? – photo by Kecko CC BY 2.0 on Flickr

Every form of energy we have can eventually be traced back to the Sun. Space based solar power solves the on/off problem of terrestrial solar power, and could be delivered nearly anywhere on the planet 24/7/365. These characteristics make space based solar power a virtually unlimited, clean baseload power source.

Currently, payload launch-to-orbit costs are the single biggest hurdle to developing and deploying space based solar power. While it would be a massive and complex engineering project, no basic science breakthroughs are needed before space based solar power could be implemented.

Space based solar power is not a short-term solution to our energy needs. Domestic fossil fuel resources would provide a “bridge” to its eventual implementation … but fossil fuel will be a “bridge to nowhere”, unless we start developing space based solar power very soon.

Rob Mahan
Citizens for Space Based Solar Power*

*I’m a purely self-appointed advocate, and I have no financial stake in space based solar power. I simply believe that it will eventually be the solution to our energy future.

AIAA Atlanta Presents “Space Solar Power – A Strategic Overview”

A friend of mine just sent me a copy of the invitation to the May 22 AIAA Atlanta Dinner Meeting, where Darel Preble, president of the Space Solar Power Institute, is going to present “Space Solar Power – A Strategic Overview”.

Image linked from the Space Solar Power Institute
Space-based solar power receiving antennae (rectenna) absorb wirelessly transmitted energy from space, and allow sunlight and rain to pass through so that the land underneath can still be utilized for farming or ranching.

I hope many of my former co-workers attend the dinner and learn about the potential of space-based solar power to be a game-changing technology in our energy future. In a partnership with Georgia Tech, Lockheed Martin seems like such a good fit for leading the United States in the commercial development of space-based solar power. They build rockets and satellites, do very large scale systems development and integration, conduct research green energy technologies . . . and they like to make money!

Lockheed Martin should be a charter member of the proposed public-private Sunsat Corporation, and lead the way to our energy future. There certainly is precedent for such a venture, e.g. the Railroad Act of 1862 and the Communications Satellite Act of 1962. I sincerely hope we don’t have to wait until 2062 to see a Sunsat Act come to fruition.

The dinner meeting will be at Scalini’s, one of my favorite Atlanta-area Italian restaurants!

NSS To Premiere IAA Study of Space Solar Power

Space Solar Power

The First International Assessment of Space Solar Power:
Opportunities, Issues
and Potential Pathways Forward

IAA Study of Space Solar Power

Recently, a member of the National Space Society Board of Directors informed Citizens for Space Based Solar Power of the following:

“On 14 November the National Space Society (NSS) will premier the 3-Year, 10-Nation, International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Report on Space-Based Solar Power.”

From the IAA website: “Now, more than ever, large-scale and sustainable new energy sources are needed to meet global needs while satisfying environmental concerns. . . . During 2008-2010, the first international assessment of space solar power was conducted by a study group under the auspices of the International Academy of Astronautics.” The study contains the following major sections:

1. Introduction
2. Solar Power Satellite Systems Concepts
3. SPS Supporting Systems
4. Technology Readiness And Risk Assessment
5. SSP / SPS Policy And Other Considerations
6. SPS Market Assessment and Economics
7. Preliminary Systems Analysis Results
8. An International Roadmap for Space Solar Power
9. Conclusion: Findings And Recommendations

The full text of the 242-page report can be accessed here.

The following is a 41-minute presentation from the International Space Solar Power Symposium at the National Space Society 2011 International Space Development Conference (ISDC) of a draft report of the study, Space Solar Power: The First International Assessment of Opportunities, Issues, and Potential Pathways Forward by John C. Mankins (Artemis Innovation). Mankins is the Chair and Editor of the study.

New Solar Energy Conversion Process?

“Stanford engineers have figured out how to simultaneously use the light and heat of the sun to generate electricity in a way that could make solar power production more than twice as efficient as existing methods and potentially cheap enough to compete with oil.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Ted Talk: Bill Gates on Energy

Link to original Ted Talk if the video above does not play.

Dear Bill,

I am very pleased to learn about your involvement in the energy future of our planet. I agree that clean, affordable and available energy is the overriding issue for the future development and well being of the entire human race.

My wish is that you will take a serious look at space-based solar power. I believe it can be a game-changing base load power source. When funded, developed and deployed at the required scale, space-based solar power addresses your requirements for zero carbon emissions, ease of distribution, relatively small earth footprint and zero waste generated.

Uranium is a finite resource, though longer range than conventional fossil fuels. Space-based solar power can provide energy to the earth until the sun burns out.

The website Citizens for Space Based Solar Power is one of many places to begin a review of the current state and potential for space-based solar power. You could be the voice this technology has been seeking.

Rob Mahan

Aviation Week Article on SBSP

European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) subsidiary Astrium is seeking to scale up ground based demonstrations by getting public agencies and corporations interested in funding an orbital demonstration project. The company is projecting having a 10-20KW demonstrator in orbit, perhaps on the International Space Station, within five years. Astrium engineers are focusing on using infrared lasers to beam the collected energy back to the surface instead of the more traditional microwave beam approach.

This isn’t the first time Aviation Week & Space Technology has reported on space-based solar power, but it is the first time in a while and it may signify an up-tick in activities around the world.

Read the Aviation Week article by Michael A. Taverna published in the January 25, 2010 issue here.

I’ll make my plea once again … U.S. government agencies and private corporations must get on the space-based solar power development path soon or we will be left playing catch-up once again. It seems to me that Lockheed Martin Corporation is the perfect United States’ answer to EADS-Astrium’s efforts on the European continent.

Space Energy TEDx London – Presentation by Peter Sage

This 18 minute TEDx London presentation by Peter Sage of Space Energy presents current information on just about every aspect of Space Based Solar Power. Although my usual sources have been quiet lately, apparently there is a lot still going on towards launching this game-changing and unlimited source of clean, available baseload power.

Click here to watch the video.