Ariel Schwartz

Plan To Transform The Moon Into a Solar Plant is Sheer LUNAcy

by , 06/01/10

sustainable design, green design, renewable energy, luna ring, shimizu corporation, solar power, solar panels, moon, energy

We’ve heard about schemes to gather solar power directly from space before, but designers at Japan’s Shimizu Corporation have taken the idea to a new level with the Luna Ring, a concept solar power plant on the moon. The plan involves building a 6,800 mile “solar belt” around the moon, beaming electricity to earth with microwaves and lasers, and setting up receiving stations on Earth where the power can then be used.

sustainable design, green design, renewable energy, luna ring, shimizu corporation, solar power, solar panels, moon, energy

Shimizu even has a grand plan for bringing the resources for the solar plant to the moon. Humans will barely be involved–all construction will be taken care of by robots with oversight from astronauts. The company explains that, “Water can be produced by reducing lunar soil with hydrogen that is imported from the Earth. Cementing material can also be extracted from lunar resources. These materials will be mixed with lunar soil and gravel to make concrete. Bricks, glass fibers and other structural materials can also be produced by solar-heat treatments.”

Compelling ideas, to be sure, but we’d like to see evidence that any of this is possible. If we can’t get robots to fix an oil spill 5,000 feet below the ocean’s surface, how can we possibly expect them to build a gigantic solar power plant on the moon? Even if this whole scheme was proven possible, the costs would be astronomical — pun fully intended. Still, we can’t fault Shimizu for being ambitious. And while a 6,800 mile solar belt may be far-fetched, that doesn’t mean a more reasonably-sized solar power plant can’t someday end up on the moon.

+ Shimizu Corporation

Via Pink Tentacle

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10 Comments

  1. Phiptoe June 2, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    We should never belittle pure science. No matter how improbable a concept may seem on the surface. Inventiveness comes from pure science and many technological advances have come as an aside of it. Think outside the square despite the improbabilities and very real things will come of it that don’t necessarily relate to the original concept. Science doesn’t just deal in proving facts but in investigating concepts.

  2. Eriksson February 10, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Lunar Solar Power is not a Japanese concept. The proposal has been promoted for decades by space scientist Dr. David R. Criswell – http://www.aip.org/tip/INPHFA/vol-8/iss-2/p12.pdf
    I suggest you read the pdf and do some research on the subject, rather than ranting and guessing.
    the first LSP (Lunar Solar Power) Installation, will become the new sputnik, and a new space energy race.

  3. Massive Lunar Solar Pow... October 26, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    [...] The Lunar Solar Power System is a theoretical idea put forward by Dr. Criswell. After solar power is collected on the moon’s surface it is beamed to earth, where a set of receivers would capture the microwave beams and supply commercial electricity to regional power grids. It is theorized that the system would continuously provide the equivalent of about two kilowatts per person. [...]

  4. Solar Winds Could Provi... October 5, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    [...] the solar sail back to collectors on Earth. In theory, it would be much cheaper than setting up solar stations on the Moon or in space, which is another theory put forward by the [...]

  5. terrado7 June 6, 2010 at 8:46 am

    I’ve heard this idea several times but no one ever mentions what this will mean for reflection of the sun. Will it make the moon brighter or duller? What effects could this have on the earth or its ecosystems.

  6. downthesystem June 5, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    ummmmm meteors? has the japanese even considered that the moon has no atmosphere to protect it from meteors…

  7. schmitty338@ June 5, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Ummm…these ideas are cool and all, but simple calculations show that covering even a relatively small portion of the sahara desert (or similar deserts) with solar panels/solar thermal plants, will provide enough energy for the entire planet. Covering the entire sahara would power the planet many many times over with CURRENT TECHNOLOGY – yet we can\’t even get a significant amount built there. I think efforts should focus on developing deserts and other such options before we even consider crazy, and hugely expensive (but cool) lunar options.

  8. Brice June 5, 2010 at 1:27 am

    The idea is great, although it seems pretty far fetched with our current technology. I would think something like this is not too far off though.

  9. Randy Disher June 2, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    This idea is not from Japan. The first time I read about it was in Peter F. Hamilton’s “Pandora’s Star” (2004), but it may well be possible that the NASA, the ESA, the Russians, Arthur C. Clarke or some other SciFi genius promoted this idea much earlier.

  10. Daniel McClintick June 1, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    This could only work if human cloning is allowed, and used to harvest the energy. /sarcasm

    I cant possibly see this being an affordable option in my lifetime or many generations after. There are too many expensive problems to overcome. The fuel alone to get the materials to the lunar surface would be tremendous, right?

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