Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Space Based Solar Power

It looks like the large portions of the U.S. Military-Industrial complex are getting behind this. The most likely trigger is the expense in dominating the earth's energy supply through warfare and occupation. Iraq and AfPak have not gone 'smoothly', and the Pentagon and any engaged observer can see these type of battles are just the beginning. As the 2007 report on Space Based Solar Power, from the National Security Space Office, summarized: "In addition to the emergence of global concerns over climate change, American and allied energy source security is now under threat from actors that seek to destabilize or control global energy markets as well as increased energy demand competition by emerging global economies." (Read : China and India)

The U.S., of course, has had a military-Keynesian style economy since the 2nd World War. Many major American inventions since that time, if not most, germinated first within military research. Generally, it's not a good bet to go against the research power and the ample budget of the Pentagon. Certainly, major players are getting involved, which means that they believe government backing is shortly to come. Consider PG & E's recent application to buy space based solar power from Solaren. Who is Solaren ? A "stealthy Southern California startup founded by veterans of key players in the military-industrial complex—Hughes Aircraft, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force."

Some finding from the 2007 report:

- "The SBSP Study Group concluded that space‐based solar power does present a strategic opportunity that could significantly advance US and partner security, capability, and freedom of action and merits significant further attention on the part of both the US Government and the private sector."

- "The SBSP Study Group concluded that while significant technical challenges remain, Space‐Based Solar Power is more technically executable than ever before and current technological vectors promise to further improve its viability. A government‐led proof‐of‐concept demonstration could serve to catalyze commercial sector development."

The entire report is an interesting read.

1 "SBSP Interim Assessment" - From the National Security Space Office
2 "Space Solar Power: The Next Frontier ?" - PG & E
3 "California utility bets on space-based solar power" - Grist

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