Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Japan Pledge to Turn the Moon into a Solar Farm

Or at least Japanese construction company Shimizu does...

Japan has been actively embracing forms of alternate energy following the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster but one company seems to have gone the extra mile by promising to provide power to not only Japan, but the entire world.

In what feels like a suggestion from the pages of a sci-fi book, Shimizu are looking to place a ring of solar panels around the moon's equator, effectively resulting in non-stop exposure to sunlight (also because there's no weather in space). Solar energy becomes electricity via generators which will then be 'beamed' down to earth via lasers to be converted into conventional power.

Seem mad enough yet? It gets better.

The facilities on the moon to help with all this will be constructed with resources from the actual moon, with all the necessary raw materials already available to make concrete, glass and bricks (though no word on how they plan on constructing furnaces out there).

It's an ambitious proposal, and the scary thing is that it completely plausible, but what are the implications of such a venture?
It's nice to think that the whole world can be powered using only the moon but it is disconcerting to think that only one company will be responsible for dishing out the power. This means they can dictate prices, especially if they control the market, and this could lead to severe political issues some ways down the road. Also, solar cells are currently incredibly ineffective to the point that every day someone invents a much more capable design. To get the most from this project you would have to ensure that what you were sending up into space was the most technologically advanced solar cells ever designed because once they are up there it's going to be difficult to replace them.

Consider me intrigued, no less because of the huge benefits this could have on mankind, but I still can't help but be sceptical about it.

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