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Published on July 11th, 2011 | by Susan Kraemer


Japan’s Shimizu Proposes a Loony Solar Idea

July 11th, 2011 by  

Taking space-based solar one rather giant leap further, Japan’s respected construction giant Shimizu is recommending that Earthlings build a huge moon-based solar plant to power the entire world from a Lunar Ring.

The idea behind Shimizu’s lunar solar belt would be to build an array of solar modules extending like a belt around the 11,000 kilometer equator. Using robots (because they don’t need to breathe), solar modules would be constructed in situ, on the moon, using lunar material resources which Shimizu claims would be adequate for the task.

Cables would transfer power from the modules, to transmission facilities which would beam them via microwave to gigantic receivers in the desert or the ocean located at points around the world within proximity to major population areas, so that power could be continuously sent by laser beam to some point on the planet during the Earth’s daily rotations. (The lasers would be imports from Earth)

The plan would create enough energy to power the entire planet, according to Shimizu, one of Japan’s top three contracting firms, but the company, one of Japan’s top three construction firms, with expertise in airports and bridges, strangely quantifies the estimated electricity production as an estimated “17 billion “tons” of oil-equivalent energy, making it a little difficult to assess.

With enough funding, Shimizu says by 2035 robots could exploit the lunar surface to extract the materials to build the solar cells, concrete and other materials needed to build the project. By adding just hydrogen imports from Earth, for example, water could be produced, apparently.

It’s a very high stakes/high investment/high payoff plan, completely understandable in view of Japan’s now even more precarious energy situation, which if it worked, would be a thrillingly futuristic new energy source that would fully make up for my lack of a jetpack, to date.

The video: Shimizu Lunar Belt

Susan Kraemer @Twitter


About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

  • anonymous

    This idea is totally a disaster that could harm the entire planet. Human made technology always come with human errors, let the nature run by itself!

  • Why Japan’s always comes first in Technology.

  • Totally over-looks the new LFTR reactors from China! Thorium fueled, a much cheaper fuel, rectors cheaper to build by a factor of 10, benign waste products safe after only 300 years of storage, no plutonium production at all, and very efficient heat producers. Soon, China will build only these, far superior designs, and power electric bullet-train networks with nuclear-electric infrastructures. These networks will be daisy-chained across Eurasia, and form the backbone of A huge new Asian Empire. This will become more evident this decade, become a reality in two decades, and will leave the U.S.A. behind as a very backwards country, an oil and rubber wheeled country, a country supporting foreign “Parasite” OPEC and Saudi countries at its own economic peril. Even today, America refuses the 40 % more efficient Euro-Diesel engines for their rubber wheeled economy, fly by jet plane at will, and cannot pay their bills, Their government stalls and requires huge loans from China just to pay its bills as we speak.

  • I have written an article analysing these. Especially the launch cost, power during the night on Moon etc.

  • Anumakonda Jagadeesh

    Of course it is an Utopian Idea. Does we need such plans when we have not even started on a small scale on land.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP),India
    Wind Energy Expert
    E-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com

  • Anonymous

    By 2035 we could already have (just about) 100% of all the power we need for electricity, heat and transportation generated by renewables using the technology we have on hand right now.

    Our power would be cheaper than it is now. Especially the transportation part.

    It’s simply a matter of political will.

    Space based power is interesting but it should not delay our getting on with the job of getting off fossil fuel. If we need to beam power to places like Japan we could generate it in sunny places like North Africa or windy places like Wyoming, beam it up to a satellite and back down to where it’s needed.

    Probably makes more sense to tap Japan’s offshore wind and geothermal potential and ship in some power from an Asia HVDC grid.

  • Russell Geisthardt

    This brings SimCity2000 to mind. What happens when the microwave beam misses? There’s not a “No Disasters” mode in real life…

  • Electric38

    The development of solar ink in a few countries is already showing promise. Why does Shimizu try to make things so technical? Printing presses that allow for “plug & play” rooftop solar, make it very affordable and may keep it out of the hands of greedy monopolistic/corporate type banksters seems to solve several problems at once. Having residents and small businesses own their own power system will promote job growth, economic growth and electric car charging capability etc..

  • douglas prince

    I can’t believe any of you yahoos are taking this proposal seriously. Honestly, would you think twice if this idea came from some 15-year-old punk in Nebraska?
    I didn’t think so…

  • Obviously the author hasn’t seen the videos of a new jet pack.
    Seems more like a reflex (to scoff at something that someone can’t wrap their head around) than entirely unworkeable.

  • FellOnEarth

    Wouldn’t it just make more sense to eliminate the moon as the energy platform and just use the much more accessible and available land on Earth and just implement a global energy transmission network? It’s certainly more realistic.

    Personally, I don’t like the idea of beaming microwaves toward the Earth at this scale, we receive more than enough solar radiation already, why increase the exposure?

    • Anonymous

      Expect Japan doesn’t really have much accessible land.

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