"Solar microwave satellites would be an unlimited energy source."
Call me stoopid, but I've never heard of that before. Got a link that explains it all? My socialist BIL is always on me about, "It's all Bush's Fault that gasoline is over $2/gallon" so I'd like an alternate way to slap him down while keeping him preoccupied and out of my hair. Thanks! :)
I won't call you stoopid.. your socialist friend is stoopid.
from a US DOE site http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/factsheets/l123.html
Solar Power Satellites
The feasibility of solar power stations orbiting the Earth and sending power to the Earth's surface, was investigated during the 1970s in response to the oil embargo of the United States. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) studied the concept of the Solar Power Satellites System (SPSS), which consisted of placing about 60 satellites containing large photovoltaic arrays in stationary orbits above the earth. Each satellite would have a matching receiving rectifying antenna (rectenna) on the ground. The satellites would have transmitted a fixed microwave beam to the ground station. The microwave transmission system envisioned by NASA and DOE would have had three aspects:
1. The conversion of direct current (DC) power (from the photovoltaic cells on the satellites) to microwave power on satellites on geosynchronous (stationary) orbit above the earth;
2. The formation and control of microwave beams aimed precisely at fixed locations on the earth's surface; and
3. The collection of the microwave energy and its conversion into electrical energy at the earth's surface.
Each SPSS would have been massive, measuring 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers [km]) long and 3.3 miles (5.3 km) wide, or 21 square miles (55.7 square kilometers) in area. The surface of each satellite would have been covered with 400 million solar cells.
The transmitting antenna on the satellite(s) would have been about ½ mile in diameter (1 km) and the receiving antennae on the earth's surface would have been about 6 miles (10 km) in diameter. Massive structures such as this would have been a significant engineering challenge.
Because of their size, the satellites would have been constructed in space. The plan envisioned sending small segments of the satellites into space using the Space Shuttle. The materials would have been stored at work stations in low earth orbit, and then towed to the assembly point by a purpose-built "space tug" (such as operating the space shuttle).
Cost was the major obstacle to development of the SPSS. When the NASA-DOE report was completed in 1979, the estimated cost for building a prototype was $74 billion. Construction of an SPSS system would have taken about 30 years to complete. At the time, the United States did not appropriate funds to begin construction. Other countries, such as Japan, are currently exploring the concept of solar power stations in space.
NASA has continued research into the concept of space-based power stations under its Space Solar Power Technology Advanced Research & Development Program. The goal of the program is to conduct preliminary strategic technology research and development to enable large, multi-megawatt to gigawatt-class space solar power (SSP) systems and wireless power transmission (WPT) for government missions and commercial markets (in-space and terrestrial).