Photo by Mr. Objective via Flickr CC
It's baaaaaaack. After the quake in Japan, everyone has their eyes on how renewable energy that is far safer than nuclear and coal might be scaled up to power our cities. And that includes going back to some rather ludicrous ideas like the Luna Ring. It's an idea we talked about last year, and now The Daily Mail reports that a Japanese company figures the best thing to do is take advantage of the empty landscape of the moon to set up solar arrays and beam the energy back down to earth. The Daily Mail reports that Shimizu Corporation announced the idea for a project that would provide 13,000 terawatts of energy for Earth, beamed back by either laser or microwave. The array, which would consist of a 6,800 mile belt wrapping around the moon, would be built almost exclusively by robots. It would also eliminate issues of inefficiency due to weather, and the moon's soil could be used to make the materials necessary for construction including concrete, oxygen, and yes, even water.
Of course, there is no intended timeline for the project -- that's obvious since the concept was already circulating a year ago and nothing new has been introduced to the plans. It's also not exactly surprising considering the requirements of the project, including technologies that haven't even been created yet. But the Shimizu Corporation is optimistic, stating "The Luna Ring, our lunar solar power generation concept, translates this dream [of renewable energy] into reality through ingenious ideas coupled with advanced space technologies."
If we had the advanced technology, funds, and drive to put robots on the moon to build a giant solar array that would fulfill all our earthly electricity needs, I would hope that we would have already found the technology, funds and drive to find solutions for these issues here on earth.
As Mike wrote last year, "[L]et's not count on something like this until the first watts are being beamed back to Earth. In the meantime, we need to find other ways to get off dirty sources of energy. It's good to dream and plan for the far future, but nothing's real but the present."
After all, the idea of using the moon as home base for solar power isn't exactly new. Still the impracticality of it doesn't stop some from being entirely wrapped up by the idea of turning the moon into a "mirrorball" power plant.
I sincerely hope Mark Whittington was joking when he wrote on Yahoo News, "Ideas like Criswell's and Shimizu should become part of the mix as the debate over America's future direction in space grinds on. Thus far, the plan set forth by President Obama would bypass the Moon. That decision may well have been both premature and ill advised."
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