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(BBC)   Company has plan to solve energy crisis using orbiting laser satellites. Not sure why they need an underground volcano headquarters, though   (news.bbc.co.uk) divider line 98
    More: Spiffy, solar energy, space powers, University of Surrey, solar cells, upper atmosphere, space agency, laser light, demonstrations  
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5763 clicks; posted to Main » on 20 Jan 2010 at 6:00 PM (4 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



98 Comments   (+0 »)
   

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2010-01-20 06:03:54 PM
where else would they shoot their "lazer" from?
 
2010-01-20 06:03:57 PM
cdn.screenjunkies.com
 
2010-01-20 06:04:05 PM
... because this always worked so well in SimCity.
 
2010-01-20 06:04:51 PM
That's great until they lose control of their satellites targeting and burn down half your city.

Alternatively, it would be a great mechanism by which to fill a jackass professor's house with popcorn.
 
2010-01-20 06:05:17 PM
Jument: ... because this always worked so well in SimCity.

I hope I wasn't the only one who intentionally created a Microwave Miss-fire....
 
2010-01-20 06:05:40 PM
The volcano headquarters are for combining monkeys and ponies. Just don't use too many monkeys.
 
2010-01-20 06:05:56 PM
happywaffle.files.wordpress.com

approves
 
2010-01-20 06:06:00 PM
"Space solar power is an attractive concept because it would be clean, inexhaustible, and available 24 hours a day. "
Whaaat? How can they possibly do this at night?
 
2010-01-20 06:06:26 PM
www.milehimama.com
 
2010-01-20 06:06:39 PM
Interesting concept, and I hope they succeed, but putting stuff in orbit is tremendously expensive, both in terms of energy and money. Even if it works as advertised, I suspect they'll be looking at a dismal ROI.

Anyone know how much more efficient this thing can be compared to land-based panels, considering it has to convert sunlight to electricity to laser light and back to electricity? As opposed to terrestrial panels which go straight from sunlight to grid?
 
2010-01-20 06:08:10 PM
Does the increase in the amount of energy resulting from the satellite's placement above the atmosphere offset the energy used to launch it?
 
2010-01-20 06:08:39 PM
KAAAAANEEEEEEEDAAAAAAAA!!!!!
 
2010-01-20 06:08:50 PM
I'll just leave this here.

ecx.images-amazon.com

/hot like a lasersat beam slicing across DC
 
2010-01-20 06:10:21 PM
RUA CHARGIN YA LAZOR yet?
 
2010-01-20 06:11:56 PM
zepplinrules: "Space solar power is an attractive concept because it would be clean, inexhaustible, and available 24 hours a day. "
Whaaat? How can they possibly do this at night?


Mirrors. 4 satellites in orbit, generate the laser from the one in orbit at noon, reflect it off of the one sitting at 9 to the one orbiting above you at midnight, which directs it to the surface station.
 
2010-01-20 06:16:24 PM
IonBeam2: Does the increase in the amount of energy resulting from the satellite's placement above the atmosphere offset the energy used to launch it?

Eventually...

I'm struck by the distinct lack of any sort of claim as to how much power this would generate...they're talking about a 20kW laser, but there's no indication of how fast that power is going to arrive.
 
2010-01-20 06:16:47 PM
Astrium says the latter can be addressed by using infrared lasers which, if misdirected, would not risk "cooking" anyone in their path.

How's that gonna work? You'd be sending kilowatts or megawatts of beam and it conveniently knows not to cook things it's not supposed to?
 
2010-01-20 06:17:18 PM
pew pew pew!
 
2010-01-20 06:17:34 PM
The only thing holding up the project is how to make the world's largest speaker to play the Pink Floyd.
 
2010-01-20 06:20:39 PM
MortalComedy: approves

Can leave happy now.
 
2010-01-20 06:22:17 PM
Look at PowerSat in Wikipedia. It really is the answer to so many problems.
 
2010-01-20 06:27:00 PM
Jubeebee: Interesting concept, and I hope they succeed, but putting stuff in orbit is tremendously expensive, both in terms of energy and money. Even if it works as advertised, I suspect they'll be looking at a dismal ROI.

Anyone know how much more efficient this thing can be compared to land-based panels, considering it has to convert sunlight to electricity to laser light and back to electricity? As opposed to terrestrial panels which go straight from sunlight to grid?


Good question! Well, lacking atmospheric absorption, IIRC they were like 20% more to begin with.
Geostationary orbit is so far out that the shadow of the Earth will only fall across it for a brief period each day. More important, the sun is at peak brightness all the rest of the time.

And most solar panels are fixed in one orientation for cost reasons. They're only facing the sun directly at noon. The rest of the time, they're not only penalized by the light not being as bright but by not facing it. In orbit, a huge array would be set up to always face the sun.

An important point is that setting up huge arrays in space is theoretically possible, since they don't require the same sort of supporting framework and don't deal with wind and hurricanes. Dust alone is a huge penalty for terrestrial solar.

However, they do deal with plenty of additional problems. Micrometeorids, for one. The cost of installation and maintenance is of course astronomically higher.
 
2010-01-20 06:28:42 PM
Oznog: astronomically higher.

HA. HA.
 
2010-01-20 06:29:54 PM
Wouldn't it be cheaper to put a roof over Arizona and cover it with solar cells?

Yes... a replacement power grid would be required to distribute the energy.
 
2010-01-20 06:31:44 PM
SHOOP DA WHOOP!!!
 
2010-01-20 06:32:25 PM
damnit, beaten to the punch
 
2010-01-20 06:34:16 PM
jayessell: Wouldn't it be cheaper to put a roof over Arizona and cover it with solar cells? just sit back and change nothing?

FTFY.

Kennedy inspired a nation to go to the moon. We need somebody now who can inspire us to get off of oil.
 
2010-01-20 06:35:40 PM
scrapetv.com
 
2010-01-20 06:37:03 PM
The daily amount of energy (insolation in a sq/meter) striking the surface of a PV module outside Earths atmosphere is 32.7 KW.

The daily amount of energy (insolation in a sq/meter) striking the surface of a PV module in Inyokern, CA is 7.66 KW.

So as long as the total cost of launching, installing and maintaining a PV module in orbit isn't more than 4.26 times that of putting one of your roof, the financials make sense.

However the cheapest option to launch an item into space is $5000 a lb and the average module weight is 35 lbs - it'll cost $175,000 to put a module in orbit. That's roughly $647 a watt in transportation cost. I can buy a nice Earthbound module for about 4 dollars a watt.

IE, this is nothing but pie in the sky bullshiat for venture capitol dollars.
 
2010-01-20 06:38:01 PM
Jubeebee:
Mirrors. 4 satellites in orbit, generate the laser from the one in orbit at noon, reflect it off of the one sitting at 9 to the one orbiting above you at midnight, which directs it to the surface station.


Pssh, yeah right. The sun is still burning at night. I don't know what school you went to, but you should try and get a refund!
 
2010-01-20 06:38:54 PM
That is old news by a factor of roughly 35 years.

It was first proposed by Gerard K. O'neill in 1971, and proselytized by numerous people for the next 10 years, but no one wanted to take such a bold step; it died on the drawing board.

Google L5 Society for more information.

Also, lasers are only 2% efficient; you need microwaves to collect more power.
 
2010-01-20 06:44:29 PM
hitlersbrain, what is that? A sports bar or something?
 
2010-01-20 06:44:37 PM
MrSteve007: The daily amount of energy (insolation in a sq/meter) striking the surface of a PV module outside Earths atmosphere is 32.7 KW.

The daily amount of energy (insolation in a sq/meter) striking the surface of a PV module in Inyokern, CA is 7.66 KW.

So as long as the total cost of launching, installing and maintaining a PV module in orbit isn't more than 4.26 times that of putting one of your roof, the financials make sense.

However the cheapest option to launch an item into space is $5000 a lb and the average module weight is 35 lbs - it'll cost $175,000 to put a module in orbit. That's roughly $647 a watt in transportation cost. I can buy a nice Earthbound module for about 4 dollars a watt.

IE, this is nothing but pie in the sky bullshiat for venture capitol dollars.


what if you were to use a private launch company instead of say, nasa?
 
2010-01-20 06:49:04 PM
loonatic112358: what if you were to use a private launch company instead of say, nasa?

No matter how sweet a deal SpaceX cuts you, you're not going to get $4 a watt for solar panels in orbit.
 
2010-01-20 06:50:53 PM
Yes, I believe it's called "The Allen Parsons Project"
 
2010-01-20 06:51:28 PM
fritopendejo: hitlersbrain, what is that? A sports bar or something?

I think it's a picture of a moon.
 
2010-01-20 06:51:51 PM
Engineer Errant: loonatic112358: what if you were to use a private launch company instead of say, nasa?

No matter how sweet a deal SpaceX cuts you, you're not going to get $4 a watt for solar panels in orbit.


where's those damn spindizzy motors I ordered

You're right, and you likelhy won't get to place in position where it gets sunlight continuously, but still, could be useful for places not like arizona, nw california or w texas
 
2010-01-20 06:54:38 PM
Brewski: fritopendejo: hitlersbrain, what is that? A sports bar or something?

I think it's a picture of a moon.


that's no moon

this is a moon

photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov
 
2010-01-20 06:56:27 PM
loonatic112358:
what if you were to use a private launch company instead of say, nasa?

NASA has been throwing stuff into space for 50 years. While private launch companies could certainly do it, I doubt they'd manage to do it cheaper or safer then NASA or the Russian Space Agency.

Personally I don't believe this can work until we get cheaper launch technology up and running, technology that simply doesn't exist right now. Plasma engines make moving stuff around in space easy once it's there, but launch is still a huge problem.


For now, our best bet is to invest in more down-to-Earth technologies. Solar is a guarantee, and even Fusion has a lot of potential. But the fact is by the time we have the needed launch tech, chances are the energy crisis will be over, making it a non-solution.
 
2010-01-20 06:57:13 PM
loonatic112358: what if you were to use a private launch company instead of say, nasa?

I made a mistake, the $5,000 lowball number was for low earth orbit. If you want a geostationary orbit (which you'd need for a laser/microwave PV arrangement) it'd cost $17,217 per lb via SpaceX's non-tested Falcon 9 Heavy. To put a 35 lbs, 270 watt module into Geostationary orbit, via private venture, would cost roughly $2200 per watt.

Again, you can buy PV panels for about $4 a watt, and use earthbound inverters with 93% efficiency to go from DC to AC with no distribution losses, since you're using it at the site. Solar PV has to be converted from DC, to laser/microwave, transmitted through the entirety of the atmosphere wirelessly, then back to DC for transmission/distribution, then finally to AC at your local transformer.

The entire concept is deeply flawed.
 
2010-01-20 07:00:22 PM
Sure, I remember the plot of Goldeneye.

NICE TRY, EVIL MASTERMIND

007.graphicallstars.com
 
2010-01-20 07:04:07 PM
Pfffft I thought of this in the late 1960's when I found out you could send telephone signal over laser.

Old break throughs are so exciting.



No, No thanks, keep the huge check. I just want to improve the world.
Yes, I am a moran
 
2010-01-20 07:04:22 PM
*cough*RIPOFF!*cough*
 
2010-01-20 07:05:56 PM
brianandrew.files.wordpress.com

Solar elevators FTW
 
2010-01-20 07:06:34 PM
mark12A: Yes, I believe it's called "The Allen Parsons Project"

No, I believe that was a hovercraft of some sort...
 
2010-01-20 07:07:13 PM
MrSteve007: The entire concept is deeply flawed.

Yup, it's a leftover crack-pipe fantasy from the cheap energy Space Age. It's very romantic so appeals to a certain naive type of optimistic starry-eyed geek.

The idea that the human race may have to scale back its activities, or heaven forbid change the entire university/suburbs/drive everywhere concept, is alien to these nerds. They grew up on fantasies where no concept of where the energy comes from was ever mentionned.
 
2010-01-20 07:07:27 PM
if you can think of a more efficient way to make popcorn, I'd like to hear it.
 
2010-01-20 07:13:10 PM
knoxvelour: if you can think of a more efficient way to make popcorn, I'd like to hear it.

An induction cooktop. It's much cooler to make popcorn via electromagnetism.
 
2010-01-20 07:15:10 PM
MrSteve007: knoxvelour: if you can think of a more efficient way to make popcorn, I'd like to hear it.

An induction cooktop. It's much cooler to make popcorn via electromagnetism.


still not cooler than popping with an orbital laser
 
2010-01-20 07:30:05 PM
I wonder if they'll make military FLIR and IR-seeking missiles go haywire?
 
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