What looks like a small model of a benign DeathStar is actually a solar power project, on the moon, dreamed up by the engineers at Shimizu Corporation in Tokyo, which could solve some of the world’s power problems.
In 2008, the International Energy Agency calculated that the world used about 143,851TWh of energy, only 26,775TWh of which is not related to emissions of greenhouse gases. Take away 8,283TWh of nuclear energy, and we’re left with just 12.9% of global energy needs met by renewable energy, such as biomass, hydraulic, wind, and solar power, to name a few. Given that climate change is being driven by our addiction to fossil fuels, a change is necessary in the way we power our society. Even when nuclear power doesn’t go wrong, there are still huge challenges to storing its toxic and radioactive waste. Tokyo’s Shimizu Corporation envisions a huge solar power plant, but not anywhere on earth. Instead, Luna Ring centers solar power production on the moon, to be beamed down to receiving stations here on earth.
To be sure, Luna Ring is an ambitious project, requiring the laying out of some 4.4 million km2 of solar panels around the equator of the moon. The solar power belt is envisioned to be some 400km wide and 11,000km long, which would also require thousands of kilometers of cables to transfer solar power generated on the far side of the moon to transmission stations on the near side. Transmission stations would generate microwave and laser energy to rectennas on the earth, which will convert it to DC electricity for use in every part of the earth.
Shimizu estimates that Luna Ring could produce some 13,000TWh, which would nearly double the world’s use of renewable energy, reducing our reliance on nuclear and fossil fuels. The solar power project could start as soon as 2035.
Image © Shimizu Corporation