Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stick It Where The Sun DOES Shine! - Oct 22

I cannot help but think the next major crisis surrounding Israel will involve some kind of energy breakthrough. Will space-based solar energy be that breakthrough? The idea is simple enough: Have a bunch of photovoltaic mirrors reflect to a collecting satellite which sends it to a ground-based receiver who then feed such energy into the grid. Such a capital-intensive investment would need major government (meaning American) backing before it even gets off the ground. Not only is such an endeavor expensive, the technology and ingenuity involved will be daunting. I envision some bright bulb from Israel stepping onto the world stage to solve these technical dilemmas inadvertently setting the stage for the Gog-Magog battle foretold in Ezekiel 38-39. You can read the full Wall Street Journal article here. Here's a pasting of the relevant paragraphs.

Johnny Cash


For more than three decades, visionaries have imagined tapping solar power where the sun always shines—in space. If we could place giant solar panels in orbit around the Earth, and beam even a fraction of the available energy back to Earth, they could deliver nonstop electricity to any place on the planet.

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Sunlight is reflected off giant orbiting mirrors to an array of photovoltaic cells; the light is converted to electricity and then changed into microwaves, which are beamed to earth. Ground-based antennas capture the microwave energy and convert it back to electricity, which is sent to the grid.

The technology may sound like science fiction, but it's simple: Solar panels in orbit about 22,000 miles up beam energy in the form of microwaves to earth, where it's turned into electricity and plugged into the grid. (The low-powered beams are considered safe.) A ground receiving station a mile in diameter could deliver about 1,000 megawatts—enough to power on average about a million U.S. homes.

The cost of sending solar collectors into space is the biggest obstacle, so it's necessary to design a system lightweight enough to require only a few launches. A handful of countries and companies aim to deliver space-based power as early as a decade from now.

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