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junkyardfrog
2005-Jan-23, 06:59 PM
Last night, on C2C, Sir Charles W. Shults III claimed that we could be generating power in space by 2012 and beaming it down to Earth via microwave. He makes an interesting guest but he has one of the world's most horrendous websites!

:(

http://www.xenotechresearch.com/

He also claims to now be associated with Gene Meyers, of Space Island Group fame. That could be significant.

http://www.spaceislandgroup.com/home.html

Kesh
2005-Jan-23, 08:41 PM
Using microwave energy beamed from space isn't that new of an idea. In fact, it was an option in Simcity 2000.

However, that game also showed the drawback that would kill such a project in most communities: if the satellite fails to track properly for any reason, you have a strong microwave signal burning across the countryside. 8-[

archman
2005-Jan-23, 09:03 PM
However, that game also showed the drawback that would kill such a project in most communities: if the satellite fails to track properly for any reason, you have a strong microwave signal burning across the countryside. 8-[
Hmm... suddenly the game seems like an interesting buy.

novaderrik
2005-Jan-23, 11:04 PM
we already have an unlimited supply of energy beaming down from the sky- that big ball of fire we call the sun is literally drowning us with cheap energy. we just need to harness it- but that won't happen on a broad scale until oil companies figure out a way to priofit from it and we figure out a way to keep the oil producing countries from totally collapsing and taking it out on us (terrorism) once we no longer need what they have to sell.

Nicolas
2005-Jan-23, 11:10 PM
we already have an unlimited supply of energy beaming down from the sky- that big ball of fire we call the sun is literally drowning us with cheap energy. we just need to harness it- but that won't happen on a broad scale until oil companies figure out a way to priofit from it and we figure out a way to keep the oil producing countries from totally collapsing and taking it out on us (terrorism) once we no longer need what they have to sell.

2 comments:

1) Shell has a renewable energy sources programme. They want to be on top of the technology. Seems like they have a different company goal than other oil companies ("energy" vs "oil").
2) Many oil producing countries have vast deserted areas with lots of open skies and heavy sunshine. Maybe they could market that? (just a thought).

zebo-the-fat
2005-Jan-23, 11:16 PM
if the satellite fails to track properly for any reason, you have a strong microwave signal burning across the countryside.

Why not have a "return signal" so that it the power beam drifts of target the return signal stops and the power is cut.

junkyardfrog
2005-Jan-24, 01:02 AM
if the satellite fails to track properly for any reason, you have a strong microwave signal burning across the countryside.

Why not have a "return signal" so that it the power beam drifts of target the return signal stops and the power is cut.

Exactly.

Plus he is talking about building manned stations.

junkyardfrog
2005-Jan-24, 01:05 AM
if the satellite fails to track properly for any reason, you have a strong microwave signal burning across the countryside. 8-[

This would be a very widespread beam so there would be no results like the one you mention. He told what size the collector would be on the show, but I forget the details. It was huge. Something like 5 square miles on the ground.

Also, when properly tuned to go through the atmosphere the air temp above the collector would only be raised by 1/100 of one degree. He claims that is even less than the change in air temp as a result of a full moon (a fact I had never heard before).

TinFoilHat
2005-Jan-24, 01:23 AM
The wandering beam death-ray-from-space problem is a political issue, not a technological one. It's technologically possible to prevent that from ever happening. But public fears of technology aren't always rational.

The bigger problem is the current high cost of launching things into orbit. Right now you'd get more energy for the cost from just building conventional solar power plants on earth than you would from launching solar power satellites. For what it costs to send them into space, you can build enough extra solar panels to make up for the losses of having them on the ground.

Fortis
2005-Jan-24, 02:49 AM
IIRC the Japanese were talking about doing something like this a few years ago (talking about it, that is ;) ). I recall an article in New Scientist, but that's about all that I recall (other than thinking that they'd make great orbital weapon platforms. ;) )

Maksutov
2005-Jan-24, 04:02 AM
Last night, on C2C, Sir Charles W. Shults III claimed that we could be generating power in space by 2012 and beaming it down to Earth via microwave. He makes an interesting guest but he has one of the world's most horrendous websites!

:(

http://www.xenotechresearch.com/

He also claims to now be associated with Gene Meyers, of Space Island Group fame. That could be significant.

http://www.spaceislandgroup.com/home.html
Is that the same old Chuck Shults who's been debunked on many other threads?

http://www.click-smilies.de/sammlung0304/schlafen/sleeping-smiley-015.gif

Maksutov
2005-Jan-24, 04:25 AM
Last night, on C2C, Sir Charles W. Shults III claimed that we could be generating power in space by 2012 and beaming it down to Earth via microwave. l
That's right! I saw an illustration of that system. Its main advantage is it uses existing hardware.

http://img197.exs.cx/img197/3203/shultsmicrowavesfromspaceohno4.th.jpg (http://img197.exs.cx/my.php?loc=img197&image=shultsmicrowavesfromspaceo hno4.jpg)

KerryF
2005-Jan-24, 05:57 AM
Not exactly a new idea..when I was a little space nut growing up in the 70s, it was almost a given in all the published visions of the coming bright future (along with O'Neil space colonies and manned Mars missions). You always saw artist's impression of huge heavy lift rockets (Boeing's Onion etc) hauling parts for the huge power-beaming satellites into space and nice landscape paintings showing the vast receiving antenna. I recall there was one dystopic comic series in "The Eagle" or "2000AD" where the beams went bad and caused the fall of civilisation itself!:-)

As for Mr Shults (there's no record of him actually having a Knighthood) I think other threads have pretty clearly established his kook credentials.

Kaptain K
2005-Jan-24, 02:01 PM
There is nothing new about power satellites. They were a staple of '40s and '50s science fiction! :roll:

Swift
2005-Jan-24, 02:15 PM
we already have an unlimited supply of energy beaming down from the sky- that big ball of fire we call the sun is literally drowning us with cheap energy. we just need to harness it- but that won't happen on a broad scale until oil companies figure out a way to priofit from it and we figure out a way to keep the oil producing countries from totally collapsing and taking it out on us (terrorism) once we no longer need what they have to sell.
I'm a big fan of solar power (thought given Night and Weather, it's not a complete solution), but I wouldn't particularly blame the oil companies (Nicolas mentioned Shell's research; BP is doing similar). The problems are conversion efficiency and costs of the units. I wish the US government did more ( National Renewable Energy Lab (http://www.nrel.gov/) ), NREL's budget has been underfunded for years.

joema
2005-Jan-24, 03:08 PM
Large scale space solar power satellites are an interesting idea but the numbers don't look good.

North America currently has about 1 terrawatt of electrical generation capacity. That's equivalent to 1,000 one gigawatt plants.

A solar power satellite equivalent to just ONE of these plants would be:

- About the size of Manhattan Island. That assumes about 10% end-to-end efficiency (1 GW / 130 watts/m^2 = 7,700,000 m^2)

- Weigh about 10,000 metric tons (ISS is 180 tons). That's a typical figure from many past studies.

- Cost $22 billion to launch, assuming $1000/lb to geosynchronous orbit (roughly 10x cheaper than current launchers)

- Require a ground antenna 25,000 acres in size, assuming 10W/m^2

If development of new launch systems, asteroid mining, etc is required that's an additional overhead cost relative to terrestrial energy sources that don't require this.

eburacum45
2005-Jan-24, 03:47 PM
Solar power stations should certainly be built, but on the surface of the Earth.
To power the whole earth we would need perhaps ten thousand Manhattan sized plants; some could be built in deserts, but to spread the ecological impact some could be built on floating islands more cheaply than in orbit, in the Pacific Ocean for example.

There will no doubt be solar power stations in space, eventually, starting with the Moon; there are detailed plans extant on how to manufacture solar power plants on the Moon, from lunar materials; they will have low efficiency at first, but as the lunar economy grows, more efficient collectors can be built.
All this energy will be reserved for use by the space-borne economy; very little energy (or anything else) will be exported to Earth, until many centuries from now, when the space around the Sun is filled with solar power collectors.
Only then do I imagine that there will be large imports of solar energy onto this planet; and if this influx of imported energy gets too great, then the Earth may need artificial cooling.

Which is after all, not entirely impossible.

Splitter
2005-Jan-24, 04:38 PM
It's not like the energy the sun sends to the Earth is just going to waste. It powers the weather systems on this planet, the water cycle, winds, ocean currents etc.. It forms the basis of the food chain through photosynthetic plants (which also recycle CO2 as a fringe benefit). Some of the sunlight is wasted I suppose, but less than you may think.

junkyardfrog
2005-Jan-24, 10:08 PM
Last night, on C2C, Sir Charles W. Shults III claimed that we could be generating power in space by 2012 and beaming it down to Earth via microwave. He makes an interesting guest but he has one of the world's most horrendous websites!

:(

http://www.xenotechresearch.com/

He also claims to now be associated with Gene Meyers, of Space Island Group fame. That could be significant.

http://www.spaceislandgroup.com/home.html
Is that the same old Chuck Shults who's been debunked on many other threads?

http://www.click-smilies.de/sammlung0304/schlafen/sleeping-smiley-015.gif


Same guy. I will try to get in contact with Gene Meyers. Gene seems very solid. He might be willing to shed some light here....

Btw, what part of Sir Charles' info was debunked?


Bio
Sir Charles Shults III worked at Martin Marietta Aerospace for 10 years on weapons systems and computer based automated test equipment. He wrote the nuclear EMP test software for the Pershing II missile system, worked on Patriot, the Copperhead tank killer, and Advanced Attack Helicopter systems. Charles has performed research under grant on nuclear fusion, was knighted and received a long term grant for his present research in robotics and artificial intelligence. He has written many technical publications and magazine articles on space, astronomy, the atmosphere, and space resource development. In addition, Charles has also appeared on several TV and radio programs.

Bad jcsd
2005-Jan-24, 10:17 PM
Is he a real 'knight'?

scottmsg
2005-Jan-24, 11:15 PM
Is he a real 'knight'?

Not exactly. He was given the title by Dr. Nelson Ying, the Baron of Balquhain (http://members.aol.com/balquhain/Magic.html). I don't know much about Dr. Ying, but he has interests in nuclear physics, philanthropy, and Scottish fuedal baronies [from the previous article]. In the case of Charles W. Shults III, the title Sir just means he has a wealthy benefactor.

Another link (http://members.aol.com/balquhain/KnightService.html) about Dr. Ying who was apparently a "NASA Trainee (http://media.poly.edu/alumni/cable/winter98/nelson_ying.html)".

joema
2005-Jan-24, 11:30 PM
Solar power stations should certainly be built, but on the surface of the Earth.
To power the whole earth we would need perhaps ten thousand Manhattan sized plants; some could be built in deserts, but to spread the ecological impact some could be built on floating islands more cheaply than in orbit, in the Pacific Ocean for example..
You'd definitely need floating islands.

Terrestrial solar photovoltaic power can definitely play a small role, but there's just no way it will ever satisfy a large % of the world's energy need. To a degree this also applies to centralized solar thermal.

World electrical consumption (2001): 14 trillion kilowatt hrs
Average solar insolation (sun hr/day): 5 hr
Average solar flux: 700 watts/m^2
Average PV efficiency: 10% (must also include AC inversion losses)

On average each square meter of PV cells can produce 350 watt-hr per day.

To handle world needs, this would require:14E15 watt-hr / 350 watt-hr per day = 4E13 square meters, or 40,000,000 square km, or a square 6,324 km on a side. That's about 4 times the land area of the contiguous United States.

That also doesn't include distribution losses in the electric grid, which are about 10%, nor the extra capacity required because solar can't be generated on demand. The most efficient available energy storage technique is pumped hydro, which is about 75% efficient.

Another problem is electrical consumption is only a minority of total energy consumption. Even with the above titanic investment, the world would still be burning fossil fuels like crazy for transportation.

What's the cost to ALSO handle transportation via solar/hydrogen/fuel cells? Transportation energy needs are very roughly equal to non-transportation electrical, so double everything. Then you take another 60% efficiency hit on hydrogen electrolysis, then about a 50% hit on the fuel cells, for an overall efficiency of about 30%. So you'd need to roughly triple the above solar land area to about 120,000,000 square km to handle that. There are only 137,000,000 square km on earth including Antarctica. Unless I made a mistake, it doesn't look so good.

Madcat
2005-Jan-25, 04:28 AM
This is something I've never really understood. It's entirely possible for me to purchase and set up a PV system that will let my house function off of the local grid. If I do that, it's not like it's taking up land anywhere other than my roof. Why isn't it possible for the majority of society to do that? I understand that something like a skyscraper has a lot less roof in relation to its volume, but it still seems to me that there's a lot more room for a distributed PV system than there is empty space.

Maksutov
2005-Jan-25, 05:16 AM
Last night, on C2C, Sir Charles W. Shults III claimed that we could be generating power in space by 2012 and beaming it down to Earth via microwave. He makes an interesting guest but he has one of the world's most horrendous websites!

:(

http://www.xenotechresearch.com/

He also claims to now be associated with Gene Meyers, of Space Island Group fame. That could be significant.

http://www.spaceislandgroup.com/home.html
Is that the same old Chuck Shults who's been debunked on many other threads?

http://www.click-smilies.de/sammlung0304/schlafen/sleeping-smiley-015.gif


Same guy. I will try to get in contact with Gene Meyers. Gene seems very solid. He might be willing to shed some light here....

Btw, what part of Sir Charles' info was debunked?


Bio
Sir Charles Shults III worked at Martin Marietta Aerospace for 10 years on weapons systems and computer based automated test equipment. He wrote the nuclear EMP test software for the Pershing II missile system, worked on Patriot, the Copperhead tank killer, and Advanced Attack Helicopter systems. Charles has performed research under grant on nuclear fusion, was knighted and received a long term grant for his present research in robotics and artificial intelligence. He has written many technical publications and magazine articles on space, astronomy, the atmosphere, and space resource development. In addition, Charles has also appeared on several TV and radio programs.
Thanks for posting the "resume" again. Not sure what that has to do with Chuck's ideas being debunked though.

Re what he's proposed that has been debunked, for an example, go here. (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=349153#349153) You should recognize it since it's yet another one of your threads that starts with "Sir Charles W. Shults III...etc.,etc." You really ought to make that a macro and assign it to a function key.

Anyway, in that thread Chuck claims to have found fossils on Mars, and NASA is covering things up, etc., etc.

BTW, a comment re Chuck's resume. I've worked in the aerospace and nuclear industries for over 25 years. I know/knew many persons who had impressive resumes who also held beliefs that were, to put it mildly, out there. Having an impressive resume is no guarantee that some of one's ideas won't be woo nor does it give them validity. It's just yet another variety of Ad Verecundiam.

TheGalaxyTrio
2005-Jan-25, 07:17 AM
Using microwave energy beamed from space isn't that new of an idea. In fact, it was an option in Simcity 2000.

However, that game also showed the drawback that would kill such a project in most communities: if the satellite fails to track properly for any reason, you have a strong microwave signal burning across the countryside. 8-[

Gawd, dang it! You know, when that game came out, I sent Maxis an angry but reasoned email that they were doing solar power sats a grand disservice with that foo-fah. I asked if they could include a disclaimer that the "burn neighboring land" disaster was for game purposes only, and would not actually happen with a real system. I got no response.

One the enviromentalists like to claim is that it would cook birds in midair. It would do no such thing! DO NOT GET YOUR SCIENCE FROM VIDEO GAMES, PEOPLE!

lyford
2005-Jan-25, 07:57 AM
You should recognize it since it's yet another one of your threads that starts with "Sir Charles W. Shults III...etc.,etc." You really ought to make that a macro and assign it to a function key.
=D> =D> Oh, how I do enjoy the Maksutov smackdown... if I am not on the receiving end! So subtle! So majestic! (I wonder if he has a mask and can type with boxing gloves on...) (http://homestarrunner.com/sbemail.html)

Seriously, we can look back further than the 1970's and Gerard O'Neill (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla) if you want to talk about beaming power...

And as for credentials, as a veteran lurker on the evolution boards, I can attest that too many otherwise sane engineers seem to fall into "unrigorous thinking" when it comes to other areas of their life...(See the Salem Hypothesis (http://www.rtis.com/nat/user/elsberry/evobio/evc/jarg106.html))

Laguna
2005-Jan-25, 09:45 AM
Using microwave energy beamed from space isn't that new of an idea. In fact, it was an option in Simcity 2000.

However, that game also showed the drawback that would kill such a project in most communities: if the satellite fails to track properly for any reason, you have a strong microwave signal burning across the countryside. 8-[

Gawd, dang it! You know, when that game came out, I sent Maxis an angry but reasoned email that they were doing solar power sats a grand disservice with that foo-fah. I asked if they could include a disclaimer that the "burn neighboring land" disaster was for game purposes only, and would not actually happen with a real system. I got no response.

One the enviromentalists like to claim is that it would cook birds in midair. It would do no such thing! DO NOT GET YOUR SCIENCE FROM VIDEO GAMES, PEOPLE!
Most enviromentalist have already a problem with a GSM Antenna in their neighbourhood.
What would they say to such a thing...

eburacum45
2005-Jan-25, 12:22 PM
There are only 137,000,000 square km on earth including Antarctica. Unless I made a mistake, it doesn't look so good.

Yes; surely you are mixing kilowatt-hours and watts, a measure based on joules per second; solar energy reaching the ground in England can reach as high at 1100 Kwh per square metre in the southwest; with an efficiency of 10% that is 110Kwh, factor in hours of sunlight- 35kwh perhaps averaged over 24hrs - a lot more than the 0.35Kw you calculated. Desert regions will get a lot more.
I think you were probably three magnitudes out in your calculations- so the solar power collection area required for the whole Earth now looks like 120,000 km^2; still a fantastically large area, but perhaps acheivable.

One figure I laboriously worked out a few years back was that the sunlight falling on the cross-sectional area of the Earth is 1.8x 10e4 times the amount of energy used by our civilisation; (it is probably an out of date figure by now); if we can't manage to sequester a good proportion of that energy then it is a poor show.

CJSF
2005-Jan-25, 01:05 PM
So subtle! So majestic! (I wonder if he has a mask and can type with boxing gloves on...) (http://homestarrunner.com/sbemail.html)


Ooh! That was the best video game I've evoah played!

CJSF

John Kierein
2005-Jan-25, 03:31 PM
Maybe the Chinese will do it. An old idea that goes back to the 60s.
http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/solar_power_sats_011017-1.html

Kaptain K
2005-Jan-25, 04:52 PM
Maybe the Chinese will do it. An old idea that goes back to the 60s.
It goes back a lot farther than that!
As I said earlier, it was a staple of '40s and 50s science fiction!

Bawheid
2005-Jan-25, 04:53 PM
Is he a real 'knight'?

Not exactly. He was given the title by Dr. Nelson Ying, the Baron of Balquhain (http://members.aol.com/balquhain/Magic.html). I don't know much about Dr. Ying, but he has interests in nuclear physics, philanthropy, and Scottish fuedal baronies [from the previous article]. In the case of Charles W. Shults III, the title Sir just means he has a wealthy benefactor.

Another link (http://members.aol.com/balquhain/KnightService.html) about Dr. Ying who was apparently a "NASA Trainee (http://media.poly.edu/alumni/cable/winter98/nelson_ying.html)".

Horse dead, flogging continues; but as a Scots lawyer I can't leave this one alone.

Dr Nelson Ying is a Baron, but without any rights or powers. He bought his barony, there is a market for these things but they aren't valuable other than for self-aggrandisement. He has no right to knight anyone, anywhere. I have read most of his website and it varies from the incomprehensible, through merely stunning, to laugh out loud funny. He has no concept of Scots Law or Scots Law terms and there is a great deal of delusion and wishful thinking. Must stop now.

Nice smackdown Mak!

Kristophe
2005-Jan-25, 04:56 PM
You can buy titles now? Where? On eBay? Can I be the King of Kingston?

Bawheid
2005-Jan-25, 05:00 PM
Welcome Kristophe.

You can buy some Scots titles, but only ones that aren't worth anything. :D

skrap1r0n
2005-Jan-25, 05:31 PM
we already have an unlimited supply of energy beaming down from the sky- that big ball of fire we call the sun is literally drowning us with cheap energy. we just need to harness it- but that won't happen on a broad scale until oil companies figure out a way to priofit from it and we figure out a way to keep the oil producing countries from totally collapsing and taking it out on us (terrorism) once we no longer need what they have to sell.

This is an asinine statement, Energy isn't the only thing we use petrolium for.

Swift
2005-Jan-25, 05:41 PM
This is something I've never really understood. It's entirely possible for me to purchase and set up a PV system that will let my house function off of the local grid. If I do that, it's not like it's taking up land anywhere other than my roof. Why isn't it possible for the majority of society to do that? I understand that something like a skyscraper has a lot less roof in relation to its volume, but it still seems to me that there's a lot more room for a distributed PV system than there is empty space.
It's possible to take your house off the grid, but it is not easy or cheap. Given the efficiencies of current PV system and the average size house, there is generally not quite enough power for typical power uses, particularly when you have to take into account that you need to store some of that power for night. People that are serious about this usually end up replacing a lot of their current electrical devices (lighting, appliances) with very low power use ones, so as to diminish the load. All of that ends up costing a considerable amount of money. The return-on-investment is not pretty, IIRC. IMHO, the people who do this either are very serious environmentalists, are very serious about hating the local power company, or do if for vacation homes that are very far off the grid anyway.

There are entire groups and websites devoted to this, this one (http://www.solarliving.org/index.cfm), for example.

Swift
2005-Jan-25, 05:46 PM
we already have an unlimited supply of energy beaming down from the sky- that big ball of fire we call the sun is literally drowning us with cheap energy. we just need to harness it- but that won't happen on a broad scale until oil companies figure out a way to priofit from it and we figure out a way to keep the oil producing countries from totally collapsing and taking it out on us (terrorism) once we no longer need what they have to sell.

This is an asinine statement, Energy isn't the only thing we use petrolium for.
I agree about petroleum uses skrap1r0n; plastics and other petrochemicals are one of the more obvious uses. And this is to me one of the best arguments for researching renewable energy sources; it dumb to burn the oil when you can make nice things out of it. Unfortunately novaderrik, "we just need to harness it" (my bold) is a tall order. It has proven to be a difficult scientific challenge (I need research on PV materials in the 1980s) and the US and the world have not given a huge effort towards it.

(editted for some very bad typos :oops: )

enginelessjohn
2005-Jan-25, 05:52 PM
Something that always puzzles me slightly is how do you generate enough energy to cope with path loss through the atmosphere. It's 10 years since I calculated a downlink budget, but you are probably looking at least 150 dB loss.... If thats the case, assuming no other losses, to run a PC (approximately 1kW) you'd need to generate 10^18 W in space.....

There is a reason that there aren't any high power receiver experts :)

Cheers
John

R.A.F.
2005-Jan-25, 06:39 PM
Can I be the King of Kingston?

Only if I can be Prince of Paradise. :)

eburacum45
2005-Jan-25, 07:07 PM
Something that always puzzles me slightly is how do you generate enough energy to cope with path loss through the atmosphere. It's 10 years since I calculated a downlink budget, but you are probably looking at least 150 dB loss.... If thats the case, assuming no other losses, to run a PC (approximately 1kW) you'd need to generate 10^18 W in space.....

There is a reason that there aren't any high power receiver experts :)

Cheers
John

Perhaps you could elaborate on that a little, John; microwaves penetrate clouds quite well- the beams should be collimated so as to avoid spread; certainly the collection process will be inefficient- but how do you figure losing a factor of 10e15?

joema
2005-Jan-25, 08:55 PM
...surely you are mixing kilowatt-hours and watts, ...I think you were probably three magnitudes out in your calculations- so the solar power collection area required for the whole Earth now looks like 120,000 km^2; still a fantastically large area, but perhaps acheivable.
Thanks for the catch. You're right I made a math error. I forgot to multiply watt hr/day by days/yr. This significantly decreased the land area required.

Total annual global electrical consumption: 13.1 trillion kilowatt-hrs
Total annual global energy consumption: 411 quadriillion BTUs (1.2E14 kilowatt-hrs)
Average solar insolation: about 5 kilowatt-hrs/m^2/day
Average solar cell efficiency: 10% (must inc'l DC/AC inverter losses)

Note: total global energy consumption is 9 times the electrical consumption.

Average achievable electrical output: 500 watt-hr per square meter per day (5 kw-hr/m^2/day * 0.1 efficiency),
or 182.5 kilowatt hrs per m^2 per year

Area required to produce 13.1 trillion kilowatt-hrs: 72 billion square meters, or 72000 square km, or a square 268 km per side. That's very roughly the size of Indiana. That doesn't seem so bad, except for a few things:

(1) It only handles electrical consumption. Total energy consumption is about 9x greater, so that increases the area required to about 648000 square km, which is roughly the land area of New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, combined. Still not too bad for a global energy supply, but...

(2) Transmission losses cost about 10%

(3) Solar can't generate on demand so you must store power. The only way to store vast power is pumped hydro. Storage losses are about 25%, plus the facilities would be gigantic. You'd probably need about 50% capacity storage for 3 days, or 53 terawatt hrs. Hoover Dam only produces 1.3 gigawatts. You'd need about 730 Hoover Dams for energy storage.

(4) Handling transportation sector via hydrogen/fuel cells cost about 70% (for that sector), since hydrogen electrolysis costs 160 BTUs for each 100 BTUs produced, and fuel cells are only about 50% efficient.

All things considered it's not totally impossible, but the storage requirement is a killer -- exactly as you said.

Using say 50% solar doesn't solve the problem since you then need 50% overcapacity from other sources to handle night, clouds, etc. You also can't ship power across the country (from sunny area to cloudy), just regionally. So each area would need sufficient pumped hyro storage or overcapacity from other sources to handle this.

Solar insolation: http://www.windsun.com/Solar_Basics/Solar_maps.htm
World electrical consumption: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/ene_ele_con
World total energy consumption: http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/international/iealf/tablee1.xls
Various energy statistics: http://www.eia.doe.gov/

enginelessjohn
2005-Jan-26, 09:14 AM
Perhaps you could elaborate on that a little, John; microwaves penetrate clouds quite well- the beams should be collimated so as to avoid spread; certainly the collection process will be inefficient- but how do you figure losing a factor of 10e15?

Okay.... to derive a ratio in terms of dB it is 10 x log(ratio). Rearranging to give a ratio from a dB value would be 10^( dB/10). 150dB gives 10e15. Had a quick look this morning at google using the search string "downlink path loss" and one of the links that came out was

http://www.afrts.osd.mil/tech_info/handbook/pdf/section17.pdf

Which quotes path losses of 200dB.

I'd also argue a bit about the microwaves penetrating clouds. For example if clouds were non reflective, weather radar wouldn't exist. I'll post more about this this afternoon, when I've got a bit more time.

Cheers
John

eburacum45
2005-Jan-26, 02:21 PM
I see the problem; your downlink figures are concerned with broadcast microwaves; the satellite power system is assumed to use masers, which spread out much less- in fact the spread can be calculated, and the rectenna can be built to intecept the expected spread. So power loss will be minute compared to the DTS system for example; and clouds are pretty much transparent to many wavelengths; that is how the maps of Venus were made.

The real problem is of course that the massive masers envisaged for this process are 'not invented yet'.

enginelessjohn
2005-Jan-26, 02:24 PM
Right a bit more time.....

First propogation through clouds. A couple of stories...

When I was a student I did some work on a missile tracking radar, with an S-band aquisition channel and X-band tracking channel (2.2 GHz, and 9 GHz). Something interesting one of the operators showed me was a rain storm coming in from the sea. In S-band there was a fine blur on the scope, but when he switched to X-band that blur became a solid return. Due of course to the raindrops becoming significant relative to the wavelength of the radar transmission.

My day job is as an engineer for a company that manufactures GPS antennas. As part of my day to day activities I have to test prototypes on a live system. On a sunny day this is quite pleasant, as you can sit out in the country somewhere basking in the sunshine. However winter in the UK is a pretty wet miserable experience, and I've spent a fair while huddled in my car with an antenna strapped to my roof. What is also interesting is the maximum signal level recieved can vary by 3 dB purely down to atmospheric effects. That frontal clag in the last 10,000' of atmosphere can remove half of your signal by scattering.

Anyway thats hardly scientific fact, just an engineer's ramblings, so here's a webpage from UCL describing propogation through the atmosphere.

http://www.cs.ucl.ac.uk/staff/S.Bhatti/D51-notes/node22.html

It's a nice not too mathematical discussion.

Another path loss treatment this time with a geostationary satellite...

http://www.tutorialsweb.com/satcom/link-power-budget/downlink-path-loss.htm

You can recover some of this loss by using a really big antenna but it isn't going to get all of your signal back.

Cheers
John

enginelessjohn
2005-Jan-26, 02:56 PM
I see the problem; your downlink figures are concerned with broadcast microwaves; the satellite power system is assumed to use masers, which spread out much less- in fact the spread can be calculated, and the rectenna can be built to intecept the expected spread. So power loss will be minute compared to the DTS system for example; and clouds are pretty much transparent to many wavelengths; that is how the maps of Venus were made.

The real problem is of course that the massive masers envisaged for this process are 'not invented yet'.

Venusian clouds, made of sulphuric acid I believe. No idea what the droplet size is, but that is what affects scattering.

If you mean Magellan it used synthetic aperture radar....

http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/magellan.html

And if anyone can point me in the direction of the transmitted and received powers from Arecibo I'd be very interested.

The thing is all microwaves obay Maxwell's laws, and that involves decaying by the inverse square law. They don't spread, that is controlled by antenna beamwidth. All the maser is doing is generating the power.....

Cheers
John

Kaptain K
2005-Jan-26, 05:10 PM
The thing is all microwaves obay Maxwell's laws, and that involves decaying by the inverse square law. They don't spread, that is controlled by antenna beamwidth.
The inverse square law applies to power per unit area. If the beam does not spread beyond the receiving antenna, no power is lost!

joema
2005-Jan-26, 06:01 PM
Previously studied Solar Power Satellites were 5 gigawatts, used 2.45 Ghz microwaves to beam power to 6x8 mile elliptical terrestrial antenna. Peak microwave power density was 23 milliwatts per square cm, not very dangerous.

There would be some beaming losses but not too bad. In general that frequency isn't greatly attenuated by clouds or rain.

The problem with this approach is cost. It's vastly more expensive than alternative terrestrial energy sources. I would require space construction on a scale making ISS look like Sputnik.

http://www.spacefuture.com/archive/solar_power_satellites_an_idea_whose_time_has_come .shtml

eburacum45
2005-Jan-26, 08:14 PM
Surely inverse Square Law does not apply to lasers or masers. The beam spreads because of diffraction;
recently Evan pointed out a possible method of correcting for that as well...
so the only power loss should be by absoption and scattering in the atmosphere (quite small) and inefficiencies in the collection/conversion process. If the beam strays off the rectenna it will automatically shut off.