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.

SBSP on George Friedman’s Agenda

STRATFOR’s founder and CEO George Friedman discusses the push for space-based energy infrastructure after EADS, Europe’s largest space company, announces plans to launch a test satellite with solar panels. Friedman also predicted that space-based solar power will be the planet’s primary source of energy sometime in the next 100 years in his latest book by the same title … “The Next 100 Years”.

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.

Solar Power Satellites Issue – Online Journal of Space Communication

This Issue #16 – Solar Power Satellites is the most comprehensive set of articles I have seen in one place addressing all aspects of space-based solar power.

“In this issue, the Journal advances the proposition that the next generation of satellite services will be to gather sun’s energy in space and to deliver it to earth as a clean and sustainable source of electrical power. In the 21st century, the need for alternatives to the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity has become so great that space is now a real option.”

Ralph Nansen, author of ENERGY CRISIS: Solutions from Space, and former Manager of the Solar Power Satellite Program for The Boeing Company is the guest editor for this edition of the Online Journal of Space Communication.

The SBSP Competition Is ON!

WOW! My wish in the April 1st post has already started to come true! It was:

What we desperately need now is for American corporations and entrepreneurs to apply American ingenuity and start competitive efforts so that the free market forces can forge the best Space-Based Solar Power solutions for the entire planet.”

In an April 13th post on the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) blog NEXT100, they have announced their intent to sign a contract to purchase space-based solar power from an American startup company Solaren, starting in 2016. Here’s a quote from the post:

“Now PG&E is extending that approach to tap renewable energy at an entirely new level: solar power in space.

PG&E is seeking approval from state regulators for a power purchase agreement with Solaren Corp., a Southern California company that has contracted to deliver 200 megawatts of clean, renewable power over a 15 year period.

Solaren says it plans to generate the power using solar panels in earth orbit, then convert it to radio frequency energy for transmission to a receiving station in Fresno County. From there, the energy will be converted to electricity and fed into PG&E’s power grid.”

There is also an interview on PG&E’s NEXT100 blog with the Solaren CEO Gary Spirnak.

For a private startup company, Solaren has taken on quite a tall order to be delivering 200 megawatts of space-based solar power by 2016. Nonetheless, I am going to celebrate the PG&E announcement and keep a close eye on Solaren’s progress while looking out for more and more startup’s to get into the space-based solar power race.

While this may only be the first step of a 22,000 mile journey, we’ve got to start somewhere. Our current energy future is simply unsustainable.

The Commercialization of Space-Based Solar Power?

I was searching for any recent activity on Space-Based Solar Power when I simply happened on the website of Space Energy, a Swiss company with plans to commercialize the concept. Here are their Vision and Mission statements, excerpted from the Space Energy website:

Vision statementSpace Energy, Inc. intends to become the world’s leading commercial enterprise in the field of Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) which will improve the lives of millions of people by bringing a source of safe, clean energy to the planet.

Mission statementTo develop, own, and operate the first SBSP satellites to provide base-load and emergency electrical power to customers around the globe at affordable, fair market prices.

What we desperately need now is for American corporations and entrepreneurs to apply American ingenuity and start competitive efforts so that the free market forces can forge the best Space-Based Solar Power solutions for the entire planet.

Rob Mahan
Citizens for Space Based Solar Power

Hot, Flat and Crowded

I received Thomas L. Friedman’s book Hot, Flat and Crowded for Christmas. I am about half way through it and one particular paragraph prompted me to post the following comment on his website under the topic Making Clean Energy Work:


I am on pages 186-187 of Hot, Flat and Crowded in the section Clean Electrons. Your most powerful paragraph in the book so far begins with the sentence “No single solution would defuse more of the Energy-Climate Era’s problems at once than the invention of a source of abundant, clean, reliable, and cheap electrons.” You go on to list many of the currently intractable global problems that a source of abundant, clean, reliable, and cheap electrons would solve. In the next paragraph, you state that “no one has yet come up with a source of electrons that meets all four criteria: abundant, clean, reliable and cheap.”

As a self-appointed advocate, I believe that space-based solar power has the potential to meet all four of the criteria you set out. Space-based solar power is the 24/7/365 collection of solar power by satellites in geosynchronous orbit which convert and beam it to receiving antennas (rectennas) anywhere on the face of the planet to be distributed to end users by either the existing electrical grid or by wireless power transmission. On a large enough scale, such a system would give humankind direct access to unlimited clean, reliable and ultimately cheap electrons.

The idea of space-based solar power, patented by Dr. Peter Glaser in the 1960’s, was last reviewed in depth in a 2007 study sponsored by the Pentagon’s National Security Space Office. Most recently, the Space Frontier Foundation submitted a white paper to the Obama Transition Team which was subsequently posted by them for public comment.

Here are some sources where you and your readers can learn more about the potential game-changing technology of space-based solar power:

Space Based Solar Power – a public discussion

Citizens for Space Based Solar Power

Space Solar Power (SSP) – A Solution for Energy Independence & Climate Change – (Obama Transition Team website)

I invite you and your readers to learn more about Space Based Solar Power and, if you reach the same conclusions about its tremendous potential that I have, become advocates to have this potentially game-changing technology added to America’s system of solutions for a clean energy future for the entire planet.

Best regards,

Rob Mahan: Citizens for Space Based Solar Power

Allianz Knowledge Website – Comment Posted

07/08/2008 Update: My comment was indeed published on the Allianz Knowledge website, below the article titled “Solar Energy Profile: Straight from the Source“.

This afternoon, I posted the following comment on the Allianz Knowledge website, in a section on Energy and CO2 at the end of an article titled “Solar Energy Profile: Straight from the Source“. A quote from the main website stated “Allianz Knowledge focuses on Climate Change, Microfinance, and Demographic Change. These topics are vital to our business – and to our world.” I found the website to have a great deal of information regarding the energy situation we face.

I will let you know if I hear back from the website’s editors and if they decide to publish some or all of my comment.

My Comment:

Our Sun is ultimately the source of all forms of energy we consume. Solar power is nearly a direct form, while fossil fuels took as long as 400 million years to collect and convert the Sun’s energy that they store.

I am a self-appointed advocate for the immediate and large scale development of space-based solar power. Large solar panels would be put into orbit, where they would receive intense sunlight 24/7/365. This energy would be beamed to receiving antennas (rectennas) on earth in the form of electromagnetic radiation at frequencies that would not be hampered by clouds or dust in the atmosphere. This energy would be converted to conventional electricity and connected directly to the existing power grid for distribution.

This will be a complex and expensive engineering project with many beneficial offshoots in terrestrial alternative energy and space exploration technologies. I have much more information and many links on a website titled Citizens for Space Based Solar Power (c-sbsp.org).

While this idea has existed since the 1960’s, it is very disappointing that space-based solar power isn’t at least a part of the worldwide conversation on moving our energy outlook towards a sustainable future.

Best regards,

Rob Mahan
Citizens for Space Based Solar Power

Google’s Goal: RE<C

Google’s Goal: Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal

Google Press Release

Mountain View, California
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Google announced a new strategic R&D initiative to develop ways to generate electricity from renewable technologies that will be cheaper than electricity generated from burning coal. As a major consumer of electrical power and a desire to be a green corporate citizen, Google projects that the anticipated investment of hundreds of millions of dollars will result in large scale renewable energy generating capabilities and a positive impact on their corporate bottom line.

Larry Page, Google Co-founder and President of Products, said “If we meet this goal and large-scale renewable deployments are cheaper than coal, the world will have the option to meet a substantial portion of electricity needs from renewable sources and significantly reduce carbon emissions. We expect this would be a good business for us as well.”

“Cheap renewable energy is not only critical for the environment but also vital for economic development in many places where there is limited affordable energy of any kind,” added Sergey Brin, Google Co-founder and President of Technology.

With the goal of developing one gigawatt of electricity (GWe) production capacity that is cheaper than coal, this is an excellent example of the private sector taking the initiative to develop and commercialize existing renewable energy technologies. According to the press release, one GWe could power a city the size of San Francisco.

Also stated in the press release, Google is on track to be carbon neutral for 2007. For more information on Google’s commitment to a clean energy future, see http://www.google.com/renewable-energy.

We should all contact Google’s Mr. Page and Mr. Brin and ask for their support and involvement with Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) as a way to help reach their goals. They just might be very receptive to the idea. The video Moon 2.0, which explains the Google Lunar X-Prize, includes a cameo appearance by SBSP!