Solving Global Warming

According to the Pentagon, at least, it\’s all rather simple:

At some point before 2050, satellites collecting solar power and beaming it back to Earth will become a primary energy source, streaming terawatts of electricity continuously from space. That\’s if you believe a recent report from the Pentagon\’s National Security Space Office, which says confidently that we will see "a basic proof-of-concept within 4-6 years and a substantial power demonstration as early as 2017-2020".

The technology itself exists, both for the collection and transmission of such power. The one sticking point is the cost of getting into orbit. That, unfortunately, is still far too high….sadly, one of the reasons for that is the existence of the Space Shuttle itself.

"The technology has been in development for a while," says Joseph Rouge, associate director of the space office. "The truly hard and expensive part is going to be getting it into orbit. We\’ll need regular launches and on-orbit robotic assembly systems. It\’s a $10bn [£4.8bn] programme, but by 2050 it could deliver 10% of America\’s power needs."

$10 billion? In the context of climate change this is a pittance of course. Why not just go ahead and build one? It would, after all, save the planet, wouldn\’t it?

8 thoughts on “Solving Global Warming”

  1. That’ll be fun, then, when a satellite gets nudged by a bit of debris or dust, or a plane flies thru the “energy beam” 🙂

    Too much James Bond perhaps? Now, where did I leave my invisible Aston……..

    Tim adds: That’s also dealt with in the piece.

  2. Streaming terawatts of electricity???

    Focussed sunlight quite possibly, but electricity? Are they going to attach cables to these satellites?

    Tim adds: Either microwaves or lasers apparently.

  3. In which case they aren’t beaming electricity. They are beaming energy. Not the same thing at all.

    Worse still….

    IF we believe that global warming is a problem, this is not the solution. The reason that we are all being urged to adopt/develop renewable energy sources as opposed to fossil fuels is that we need to stop pumping more energy into the global system.

    Diverting terawatts of the sun’s energy that would not otherwise have struck the earth seems not to a neutral factor in the energy balance.

  4. The reason that we are all being urged to adopt/develop renewable energy sources as opposed to fossil fuels is that we need to stop pumping more energy into the global system.

    Um, not really. It’s all about the carbon, remember? The planet isn’t getting hotter because of the direct heating effect of energy use.

  5. Stephen,

    Well not quite. Even the most fanatic AGW prophets will admit that there is a long term climate variability caused by changes in the sun’s output. Carbon is supposed then to aid and abet that by means of the greenhouse effect.

    Whether or not you give, as I do, rather more credence to the first effect than the second, it is undeniable that this mechanism is altering the energy balance: we will be piping more of the sun’s output into the earth’s climate system.

    There remains a very sound question as to whether we will – in the foreseeable future – be able to do enough of this to have anything more than an entirely negligible effect on the power levels from the sun, but it is undeniable that this is not a neutral/closed system energy source as far as the earth is concerned.

  6. CO2 is plant food, not a pollutant.

    AGW is a con trick to ensure continued funding of scare industry “researchers”.

  7. Presumably the $10bn does not deliver the 10% of America’s energy needs, as that would be a rather good invesmtent. How much does America spend on energy a year? $1trn?

  8. Cleanthes, do the sums. The Earth receives roughly a kilowatt per square metre that is illuminated. Earth’s surface area is half a billion square kilometres. Therefore solar irradiation is around 250 petawatts. Mere terawatt powers are lost in the noise.

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