Problems of Lunar Solar Power

There have been a lot of proposals about having Solar Power Stations on Moon. The plan is to create a belt of solar modules around 11000km equator. The power will be taken to Earth using Microwave beams. After going through some of their ideas, I thought it was not an idea at all. Some of them were very basic so that I do not know how they over come them. Consider the following points.

  1. Earth receives 6000 times solar energy than we require, so there is no need to look outside.
  2. These ideas are not new. They came back in around 1970.
  3. Current launch system costs are exorbitantly high, somewhere around $5000 per kg. Until systems like space elevators etc. become commercially available, it would be really expensive to launch these systems. Also note that, Moon does not have an atmosphere but it has a gravity of around 1.62 m/s2 which is 16% of Earth. So reverse thrust rockets would have to be used to land anything on Moon. Also these rockets and their fuel also have to be taken from Earth at the same cost of $5000 per kg.
  4. Actually only one side of Moon is visible, and Moon has a day of around 29 days. So for 14 days when the Sun is on the other side of the Moon, that means around what we call as New Moon times, no power or very little power could be sent to Earth.
  5. As per Wikipedia article, microwave beam power is around 23mW/cm2 which 25% of Solar radiation. So large area rectennas have to be used.
  6. Remember that Apollo program cost was $25.4 Billion actually (1973 report) but estimated cost in 2005 was around $170 Billion. (from Wikipedia)

Currently solar modules prices are going down very fast and very soon they would reach the landmark $1 per Watt level. There have been a lot of work going on in that area. Even Printed Solar Cells work is progressing . If these solar panel could be depoyed on everywhere on our own Earth, why do we need to taken them to Moon at all?


Published by Anand Sivaram (आनन्दः )

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