Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Solar Panels grown on the Moon could power the Earth.

This is a neat idea but I object to the premise. The article states:
"To power entire world with solar power, we would need to cover an area that's 92 percent the size of Nevada in solar panels, and that's not even counting the batteries," says Lewis-Weber. "To me, that's just not feasible."
To power the entire world, we'd only need to cover an area 92% the size of Nevada. Not we'd need to cover Nevada, just an area of that size. There's no need to have a single continuous array to power everyone. There'd be tons of transmission losses that way anyways. Not that the article above mentions what the losses would be using microwaves to transmit energy from the Moon. Given the inverse-square law, I'd have to imagine the losses would be pretty great. It'd be better to have solar arrays directly above where they are needed. I have no idea, currently, how much area is available for rooftop solar. If every home and business had rooftop solar, it's entirely possible we'd have most of the energy we'd need. Of course it depends on many factors such as what latitude you live at and quality of panels used. If the grid was entirely distributed then areas with an excess of sunlight can power areas that are cloudy. Or even include wind which will also provide power in the absence of sun.

Not that the article is entirely without merit. If someone can come up with a way to build an entirely automated factory that can be sent to foreign bodies to mine and build stuff with local resources.. that would change a lot of things. It'd also make it possible to have such machinery build bases and other resources on the Moon, Mars or even on an asteroid. Rather than spend billions of dollars to send equipment, we can cut the costs of space exploration without making it more dangerous.

The article doesn't mention how that would be accomplished. Just the idea of sending equipment that would replicate itself. Really more like Science Fiction than fact at this point.