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Japan Plans $21B Space Power Plant

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the but-can-it-pop-popcorn dept.

Power 550

Mike writes "Japan has announced plans to send a $21 billion solar power generator into space that will be capable of producing one gigawatt of energy, or enough to power 294,000 homes. The project recently received support from Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and IHI Corp, who are now teaming up in the race to develop new technology within four years that can beam electricity back to Earth without the use of cables. Japan hopes to test a small solar satellite decked out with solar panels by the year 2015."

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Didn't Japan just come out ... (2, Interesting)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276123)

... of a recession in June? They must be high on life now ... spend spend away!

Re:Didn't Japan just come out ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276183)

japan has figured out they can print money and as long as they keep coming up with tech like hybrids that others want there is little hyperinflation risk.

Re:Didn't Japan just come out ... (2, Insightful)

nickdwaters (1452675) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276261)

Recession means "lack" of spending behavior, not "lack" of money. Often spending on promising technologies has important spin-off applications which bolster the economy / people spend money.

Re:Didn't Japan just come out ... (4, Interesting)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276455)

Recession means "lack" of spending behavior, not "lack" of money. Often spending on promising technologies has important spin-off applications which bolster the economy / people spend money.

That seems to be the exact opposite problem of what we have in America. We thought we had way more money that we even thought we had. When the magicians disappeared, all the make-believe money that was coursing through the veins of the economy dried up and caused the businesses who were relying on people spending that make-believe money to burn out and fail. It was the lack of money that caused the lack of spending, not the lack of things to buy.

Re:Didn't Japan just come out ... (1)

nickdwaters (1452675) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276583)

I honestly don't know what the heck is going on in the US! It's a clusterf***.

Re:Didn't Japan just come out ... (5, Insightful)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276539)

How is it that Keynesians continue to absolutely fail to understand basic cause and effect and the free market? "Lack of spending behavior" is neither the definition or cause of the recession. It is the result of the lack of productive return over the last several years due to terrible investments. Recession is defined as negative GDP growth, or lack of improvement in production, not lack of spending.

In this case, it's a terrible sign that the Japanese are so fed up with investing in the US that they now see hurling money into space as a better alternative.

Re:Didn't Japan just come out ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276771)

'the Japanese are so fed up with investing in the US that they now see hurling money into space as a better alternative.'

QFWTF.

Re:Didn't Japan just come out ... (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276765)

Recession means "lack" of spending behavior, not "lack" of money.

No, actually, it doesn't mean either. It means an overall decline in economic activity across many dimensions taken together, the nearest thing to a single-dimensional rough definition is a decline in production rather than spending. A decline in spending usually occurs during a recession, but its not the same thing as a recession.

Robots (2, Funny)

Abreu (173023) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276133)

I suggest using intelligent robots to manage the Space Power Plant.

Of course, you need to be careful that they don't develop their own religion...

Re:Robots (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276451)

And don't send those two guys, what are their names? Obnoxous bozos, especially the one with the red hair. It's their fault that the robots got religious, you know. The dumbasses...

SPP (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276139)

not impressed [iforce.co.nz]

Re:SPP (1)

impaledsunset (1337701) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276379)

If you don't find what you see on the picture you've linked impressive, something is wrong with you.

Of course, that's just a drawing, so it's still just vaporware.

Re:SPP (2, Informative)

klingens (147173) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276699)

If you don't find what you see on the picture you've linked impressive, something is wrong with you.

Of course, that's just a drawing, so it's still just vaporware.

Yes I'm very much impressed by a screenshot from a game: http://www.egosoft.com/games/x3tc/info_en.php [egosoft.com]

seriously? (0, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276149)

21 Billion for 1 measly Gigawatt?

Plus maintenance?

Orbiting power stations the beam power are inefficient and way too costly.
There is also the risk that they will get struck by space debris.

Re:seriously? (3, Insightful)

cyberjock1980 (1131059) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276257)

I could be mistaken, but isn't the cost of this power plant versus a nuclear power plant (which many people argue is the cheapest form of electricity to produce) over 3 times more? Additionally, due to problems with this technology being in its infancy there will undoubtedly be additional costs that were not taken into consideration.

I'm sure everyone will talk about this new "green" for of energy and expect it to be cheap, but they would shit a brick if they found out the actual costs they will be paying for electricity generated in this fashion.

Re:seriously? (2, Funny)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276415)

Japan is a small place with a high population density, and a good number of nuclear plants already. Perhaps they're simply running out of reasonable nuclear sites.

Either way, this opens the way for whole new sci-fi-like plots to do with hijacking power satellites for nefarious purposes, so I'm all for it ;)

Re:seriously? (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276657)

They already made that James Bond movie [imdb.com] and it was dreadful. It involved an invisible car and Bond surfing on a wave that looked like it came out of a 16bit video game. That's not to say I wouldn't watch a movie based on an awesome space-based solar collector destroying the word but it better be good this time.

Re:seriously? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276745)

Current power stations being built with two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors are in the $10 billion range, have an estimated life span around 25 years (versus 15), and produce more than twice as much power. This is a very expensive boondoggle in comparison.

Over time maybe the costs can come down. I guess you have to build one to figure out the process in any case.

Re:seriously? (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276271)

TFA, which is very short, says everything you just said. So I'm guessing the Japanese see this as a longer-term investment.

Re:seriously? (5, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276323)

That's what I was thinking, but if maintenance is cheap enough it's not too bad. $70,000 per home supplied amortized over say a 50 year design life is $117/month which is on the low end of my monthly bill. Of course that ignores servicing debt and distribution so it's definitely more expensive then most current options but if you are a small island nation with lots of wealth spending 2x as much for electricity probably isn't a big deal compared to global warming wiping out half your landmass.

Re:seriously? (1)

Medgur (172679) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276529)

Where I live (Vancouver, Canada) my monthly bill is about $22. I use electric baseboard heaters, too!

Re:seriously? (1)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276743)

Sounds like you have a metering problem. I would say that it'd be a problem in your favor, but I don't know how your utility provider will choose to rectify the difference once it comes to light (it would be a real bummer to get a large bill). What does your monthly bill say is the number of Kilowatt/Hours used? Do you know what rate plan you're on?

Re:seriously? (4, Insightful)

Alphanos (596595) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276719)

Unfortunately, nobody can win an election on the basis of "50 years from now my opponent's policies would cause half of our island to sink!". However, it's easy for someone to say "That guy wants to make you pay twice as much for electricity!". Cue outrage.

True or not, the consequences of global warming are inconceivable to most people. I think we'll need to see some more directly disastrous results before people really base day-to-day decisions on such considerations.

Re:seriously? (3, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276349)

You're thinking too short-term. All they need is another .21 Gigawatts and they can travel to the future and steal the plans for the perpetual motion machines that almost certainly will have been invented by then, and all our energy problems will be solved!

Re:seriously? (1)

oneTheory (1194569) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276497)

They must be short of bolts of lightning in Japan.

Re:seriously? (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276357)

That's a meager $70,000 per home for the initial installation! Why, at $150 a month, the thing will practically pay for itself in only 40 years -- if you don't count maintenance, delivery, or any other possible costs that could end up being associated with it post-construction.

Re:seriously? (1, Troll)

nizo (81281) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276391)

It depends; how well would something like this work as a weapon in an emergency? Dual use baby!

Re:seriously? (0)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276437)

Wind is about $1B per gigawatt, and an installation is good for 150 years with generator replacements on average 35-50 years... It also creates thousands of jobs, is easy to repair, and is not a single point terorist threat target...

21 times more expensive, 100 times more complicated, and a single point of failure, BRILLIANT!

Re:seriously? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276677)

Though I don't know for sure, I would think an orbital power station would have some interesting advantages such as improved efficiency in terms of collecting solar energy from a wide range of frequencies or even as simple heat driving a conversion process of some sort that doesn't necessarily rely on moving parts. (Think "pop-pop boats") With fewer if any moving parts in such a power plant and being without atmopshere and gravity to assist in creating friction and corrosion, I would think a power plant in orbit would run considerably longer.

Re:seriously? (1)

Sinbios (852437) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276705)

If only Japan could somehow magically create more open, unfarmable, and uninhabited land where the turbines could be placed without taking away already scarce farm land or slowly deafen anyone within a kilometer!

Re:seriously? (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276715)

Yeah, with Japan's abundance of wide open spaces, Wind would be a much better option. Actually, they should use all that open space to grow corn for ethanol. What the hell are they thinking trying to get solar from space? They have all this open land to use...


(/sarcasm for those new to the internet)

Re:seriously? (1)

PmaxII (1599235) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276733)

You need to keep in mind that Japan doesn't have all the land needed to deploy hundred of wind turbines.

It's just the first one. (5, Insightful)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276473)

I may be wrong but I think the important thing to remember is that they are paying $21 billion for the development of this space power power plant. If history tells us anything about innovation it's that innovation is costly, but the rewards can be great. Once they get this off the ground, how much will the next one cost? And the one after that? That's the important issue.

Re:seriously? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276551)

There is also the risk that they will get struck by space debris.

Not when you have a 1 gigawatt microwave laser cannon!

What is the advantage... (1)

blendedmetaphor (898386) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276173)

... of putting a solar array in space? Would it not be easier to maintain here on earth? Obviously no clouds up in space, 24 hours of sun, but the costs seem to outweigh the benefits. Plus, I would imagine an extensive amount of loss transferring energy down to earth.

Re:What is the advantage... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276249)

... of putting a solar array in space? Would it not be easier to maintain here on earth? Obviously no clouds up in space, 24 hours of sun, but the costs seem to outweigh the benefits. Plus, I would imagine an extensive amount of loss transferring energy down to earth.

I wonder the effects on Climate Change(tm) of importing new energy to the earth's surface 24/7?

Re:What is the advantage... (1)

Seng (697556) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276637)

That's what I was pondering... 99%+ of the heat energy on the Earth is from the sun... Now beam in more. Suuuuuuuper idea.

Re:What is the advantage... (4, Informative)

Delwin (599872) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276277)

The amount of solar energy per m2 outside the Van Allen Belt is far more than what we get here on earth.

Re:What is the advantage... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276355)

Even if there was Zero Loss(not possible, ob.) the cost for that much power is very high, [plus the bost of maintaining something in space.

The only thing you gt is you need less solar area to get the power, but big deal.
We have more then enough land on earth to giver everyone ample power for a billion years using industrial solar thermal.

Of Japan could invest the money in some IFR plants.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_Fast_Reactor [wikipedia.org]

Re:What is the advantage... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276413)

...24 hours of sun...

Maybe my geography or astronomy are off - Feel free to correct/bitch-slap me if I'm confused.

How does a satellite in geosynchronous orbit get 24-hours/day of sunlight?

Re:What is the advantage... (4, Informative)

Meumeu (848638) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276579)

...24 hours of sun...

Maybe my geography or astronomy are off - Feel free to correct/bitch-slap me if I'm confused.

How does a satellite in geosynchronous orbit get 24-hours/day of sunlight?

/bitch-slap

The equator and the ecliptic are not on the same plane, which means the only times when a geosynchronous satellite is in eclipse is around the equinoxes. In the worst case it can last up to 80 minutes of shadow.

Re:What is the advantage... (4, Informative)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276661)

Maybe my geography or astronomy are off - Feel free to correct/bitch-slap me if I'm confused.

How does a satellite in geosynchronous orbit get 24-hours/day of sunlight?

Geosync is way out there. If the satellite's orbit were in the same plane as the Earth's, it would only get blocked for about an hour a day. But since geostationary orbit is inclined to Earth's orbit (as Earth's equator is inclined), it only gets blocked at all during two times of the year; the rest of the time, when it's "behind" Earth relative to the Sun, the Sun shines "over" or "under" the Earth and hits it unimpeded.

Re:What is the advantage... (3, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276423)

If you are a small island nation with a large population land tends to be very scarce.

Re:What is the advantage... (1)

xgr3gx (1068984) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276449)

Indeed - they forgot the 'cartbeforethehorse' tag. They're planning on doing this before they even have a way to transmit the power?

Re:What is the advantage... (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276653)

One possible advantage is that it is perhaps easier for a small, technologically advanced, densely-populated island nation with no conventional military to maintain physical control of an object in space than one in another country.

Not sure what the point of this is (1)

axlash (960838) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276189)

I could understand it if the energy was to be used to man space stations, but the cost of getting that energy back down to earth must surely outweigh any benefit from having the panels in space... assuming, of course that there is any such benefit.

I'll believe it when I see it. (2, Interesting)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276193)

To avoid repeating myself...

http://matter2energy.wordpress.com/2009/06/12/space-power/

Mmm deathray. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276195)

How much to fire it at someone? :D

That's no moon (1)

kaptain80 (1147495) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276201)

"The project recently received support from Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and IHI Corp, who are now teaming up in the race to develop an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet."

Fixed that for you.

Another one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276211)

I wonder how many of things are planned to be up and running in the near future.

http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/09/06/25/138207/Beamed-Space-Solar-Power-Plant-To-Open-In-2016

Cue Standard Replies (5, Informative)

hardburn (141468) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276225)

If you are about to post anything about any of the issues below, please at least read the Wiki page on SBSP [wikipedia.org] first. Doing so will save a lot of electrons.

  • How do you beam the power
  • Give people cancer (or other safety issues)
  • Weaponization
  • Beam energy will be lost in transit, absorbed into the atmosphere, and contribute to global warming

A basic understanding of the technology and physics will debunk all of these, and WikiPedia gives a good overview of these non-criticisms. Anyone continuing to parrot them below will be flogged.

Re:Cue Standard Replies (5, Funny)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276367)

Those are all good links and all, but what will they do about the energy lost in transit, or otherwise absorbed into the atmosphere, and would by its very nature contribute to global warming?

Re:Cue Standard Replies (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276601)

No. The main concern for climate change is that humans are causing a feedback cycle with CO2 that increases the total heat capacity of the system. Once you reach that heat capacity, extra heat just gets thrown into space.

Additionally, any other power source you can imagine will have some efficiency lost as heat, and most of them will be quite a bit worse than beam losses and rectenna efficiency (which is around 90%).

Re:Cue Standard Replies (-1, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276381)

Microwave.

It won't.

it Can't

physics.

That said, it will never be worth while, the cost ismfar too high compared to other forms of clean energy.

It could be used for Moon or Mars missions. It could be sent as indemendant satllites and be in orbit before we send people to mars.

Re:Cue Standard Replies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276595)

Here is the relevant section:
------
Increased global warming

The entire point of a solar power satellite is to increase the amount of solar energy reaching earth. This extra energy will eventually be dissipated as heat. Depending on the scale of operations, this might or might not have a significant effect. No theories to date claim that waste heat from human power generation are a significant cause of global warming, nor would it be for the foreseeable future. The most widely promoted theory connecting human activity to global warming is that increased greenhouse gases (e.g. carbon dioxide and methane) are causing the natural heat from the Sun to be trapped so it cannot radiate to space, thus increasing the temperature of the planet. Space solar power would contribute greatly to reduction of greenhouse gases.
Rectenna power conversion efficiency would be better than 90%, so waste heat from the rectennas would be considerably less than from most other common power sources, e.g. nuclear and fossil fuels which generate much more waste heat.
------
Now, when the article mentions that conversion efficiency would be better than 90%, it does not take into account that the final product of the engergy (electricity) produced will be heat (where the electricity is used, rather than where it is gathered and converted). Also, this section only states that there are no articles or studies that confirm warming from waste heat. It doesn't mention any articles/studies that refute such a theory.

Re:Cue Standard Replies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276435)

You forgot.

  • In Soviet Russia, solar power satellite beams you!

*SMACK* Ouch!

Re:Cue Standard Replies (5, Informative)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276465)

What is there left to post? Any science or tech article outside of the IT world is guaranteed to produce an avalanche of specious, ill informed or just plain stupid comments. The best always point out some glaringly obvious non-flaw in the plan "Hurh, hurh, those scientists are so dumb. How are they going to beam solar power on a cloudy day? Bet they never thought of that. They're not so smart..."

Re:Cue Standard Replies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276499)

Your third point is everything. Why does everyone get upset when Iran wants to build a nuclear power plant to 'make electricity'? Weaponization. This is the first step towards governments having space based weapons platforms. It will be capable of beaming down devastating amounts of energy to any target on earth, and it will be basically unreachable since it is in space. This is any army's dream come true.

Re:Cue Standard Replies (2, Informative)

hardburn (141468) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276665)

The third point is nothing. The energy in question is not easily absorbed by the human body or anything else that isn't specifically designed to capture microwaves. This no more contributes to space weaponization than any other activity in space.

Consider yourself flogged.

Re:Cue Standard Replies (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276759)

The energy in question is not easily absorbed by the human body or anything else that isn't specifically designed to capture microwaves.

I don't know about yours, but MY human body is in fact a highly effective absorber of microwaves.

Re:Cue Standard Replies (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276567)

That wiki page is useless. It says nothing about the danger of another Austin Powers sequel set in Japan and featuring a hijacked SPS.

Soo... SimCity 2000::Disasters=On? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276233)

"Warning! Microwave beam targeting error!"

"AIIEE! IT STINGS AND BURNS!!"

Receiver at sea? (4, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276439)

Japan is an island nation. You could someone minimize the risk of injury or loss of (human) life by directing the beat to a receiver on some micro-island, or maybe a floating platform like an oil rig, then have cables run from the island/platform to mainland Japan. That way, if the satellite goes a *little* off target, it's not as likely to people (although it still might harm aquatic life, I suppose, though I bet the potential damage and the risks are less than the damage from an oil platform/pipe/ship accident).

Re:Receiver at sea? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276625)

What until this thing goes off target and burns a hole in the earth, or starts vaporizing the oceans. Will no one think of the whales!

Beam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276239)

Please don't miss with that beam...

USA DOD and FEMA (5, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276267)

The DOD, as well as FEMA, should be pushing to have several built for the America. This would actually enable more private launches, but also give the DOD a means to bring energy into areas that they need. Transportation of fuel is EXPENSIVE. The ability to bring power into a hurricane hit area will enable quick power. More importantly, the ability to beam energy will have to be developed. That would enable many of our construction and open pit mining vehicles to move off diesel. Basically, that would help to drive new innovations.

Giving power levels in terms of houses is annoying (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276283)

A better way of understanding about how much power this will supply is to compare it to other plants. Using that sort of measurement this will be about moderately sized. For example the Mohave Power Station http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohave_Power_Station [wikipedia.org] is slightly larger (I think) than normal for for a coal plant and produced 1.5 gigawatts. Another useful comparison is to look at how much it will cost (assuming it stays at budget). Under that metric this looks like it is orders of magnitude more expensive than conventional plants. Presumably that cost will go down as this technology becomes more common.

Re:Giving power levels in terms of houses is annoy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276425)

Especially since Japanese homes tend to be much smaller and much more energy efficient than US homes, which might embarrass us into thinking about conservation. Horrors!

Hmm... (1)

Sharp-kun (1539733) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276291)

An Ion Cannon you say?

Re:Hmm... (4, Interesting)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276633)

Here's a random thought: If we were to detect (with sufficient warning) an incoming comet on collision course for Earth, could this thing be reoriented so the microwave beam begins to ablate material off the comet and change the trajectory?

Over $71k per household? (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276293)

Over $71k per household? I sure hope they have a plan that ends up with better economics. This thing smells suspiciously like one of those projects that doesn't make sense to anyone except the companies that are using taxpayer cash to do the work.

Re:Over $71k per household? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276383)

how much did computers cost at first? govt can forgive the debt it loans itself...

Re:Over $71k per household? (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276483)

govt can forgive the debt it loans itself...

Not if they're selling bonds to finance the project, as modern governments do....

Re:Over $71k per household? (4, Insightful)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276527)

Why is it that people on /. who live and breath new technology always have such a hard time with new technology economics? Why is it so hard to understand that new technology R & D is obscenely expensive relative to the commoditized versions that eventually follow. If everything was left to visionless people who focused solely on short term economics we'd still be living in the technological dark ages with a miserable quality of life.

Before one nay-says, consider the benefits to society should the technology under discussion becomes an inexpensive commoditization.

Re:Over $71k per household? (4, Insightful)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276641)

They don't live and breathe new technology -- they live and breathe commodity technology, and think of it as new because they have no familiarity with actual R&D.

Re:Over $71k per household? (2, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276635)

Do you know how much the technology rights will be worth if they get this thing working? 21 billion doubtlessly includes R&D. Their return will be fantastic if they get it right.

Re:Over $71k per household? (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276767)

The cost of the Iraq war is at roughly $700B and counting. In 2008 Iraqi oil production reacher roughly 2.5 million barrels per day, which is enough to power roughly 10 millions US homes at an estimated consumption rate of .25 barrels per day.

Interestingly enough, using the above ballpark estimates we come up with $70K per household.

finally! (0, Offtopic)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276299)

Once this is in place, my plan will come to fruition! I will threated to launch disco balls into the power beam unless Japan pays me... *pinky to mouth* one million dollars!

able to power 294,000 homes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276313)

or one Delorean

Energy bypass and overload? (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276345)

Im not sure about this approach to get energy from out of the earth and then injecting it in. This bubble we have here has its own equilibrium and energy invariably turns into heat.... what can happen enviromentally when you inject heat that wouldnt otherwise have gotten in?

Re:Energy bypass and overload? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276587)

Im not sure about this approach to get energy from out of the earth and then injecting it in. This bubble we have here has its own equilibrium and energy invariably turns into heat.... what can happen enviromentally when you inject heat that wouldnt otherwise have gotten in?

Look at what has been happening over the last century.

1 GigaWatt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276363)

Seriously, couldn't they push it and get that last 0.21 GigaWatt out so we can use it for time travel?

Kinda steep at $71428.5714 per house (1)

Iudico (127265) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276433)

21000000000 / 294000 = 71428.5714

or about $5952.40

Man and I thought my power bill was bad for the month of August at $397.89 for the month.

Gotta love that green energy.

Re:Kinda steep at $71428.5714 per house (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276513)

Advanced research costs big money. Someone has to bite the bullet sooner or later or technology will move at a snails pace.

Wow! (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276453)

I didn't think it could work but after looking at the picture in the article I can see it will be powerful enough. That satellite is almost twice as big as the Earth!

Comments from the future (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276475)

Comments sent from the future in Japan:

It was like Godzilla came to life. I mean flames shooting from the sky, buildings colapsing in fire, people screaming, ...

It was a subtle miscalculation, it could have happened to anybody... ...looking for the owners of the power platform, who have mysteriously disappeared...

1000 internets says (1)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276537)

They use it to power their giant mechs instead.

Leap frog (1)

Twillerror (536681) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276543)

Would it be feasible to put solar collectors outside of earths orbit which in turn transmit to earth orbiting satalties that then relay down.

Could we put something closer to the Sun and leap from back to earth more effeciently than solar winds do?

Tesla tag without Tesla reference? (0, Offtopic)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276555)

I recall watching a documentary on Tesla that discusses a lot of things Tesla did including using fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic field to create electric power. I also recall that his backer/investor or whoever he was (a famous banker I think... got a bank named after him even now but just can't think of the name) said he wouldn't back any research that wouldn't make him a lot of money and so killed the line research.

I think it's about time some "open source" minded group of people pick up where Tesla left off.

Gundam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276581)

havent i sceen this before on a epasode of Gundam?>

!fried (1)

steveha (103154) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276589)

I see that someone tagged this story "fried". Well, no.

The microwave beam from a solar power satellite is not strong enough to fry things. It's stronger than sunlight but not scary strong. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power#Safety [wikipedia.org]

The land used for a power-receiving rectenna can still be used for raising cattle, without the cattle becoming super-powered mutants or getting cooked. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power#Earth-based_infrastructure [wikipedia.org]

It remains to be seen when this will prove to be economical. It's not economical today, but if they start working on it today, maybe we will have many profitable powersats orbiting Earth within, say, 30 years. (Just in time for nuclear fusion, right [blogspot.com] ?)

The good thing about this is that it doesn't require any new technology. We can do this with just some engineering. The biggest problem with this is that launch costs are currently astronomical to send anything to orbit; but I think that we are going to see a renaissance in space launch systems. Surely one of the private space companies (Armadillo Aerospace, SpaceX, Scaled Composites, etc.) will get a practical reusable launch system to work; and that will completely change the game for launch costs. [hobbyspace.com]

steveha

Oh, them unfortunate Japanese (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276599)

Those poor Japanese get screwed every which way but loose. They have been conditioned to pay $60 for a melon, and now $21 billion for something that will never work. And they don't complain!

Think of this more as a big wet kiss for the Japanese space industry. Just like "Star Wars" was for our military-industrial complex.

There's no way in heck this will ever get within a factor of 100 of being practical or economical.

Too bad about the maintenance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29276607)

You know if you ignore the maintenance the cost is almost fine
Other space born generators are expecting a 15 year life cycle (according to that article ) or about 131400 hours.
So that means a total output of 131400000000 Kilowatts
  21Billion/131.4Billion = 0.16$ per kilowatt hour
And guess what the cost of electricity is in Japan... about 0.16$ per kilowatt hour
http://www.uow.edu.au/~sharonb/japan.html
Too bad about the maintenance.

off topic but (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276609)

Japan, 2015, orbital power stations and no mention of Gundam?

I must be really old.

Nature already beams energy wirelessly (1)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276659)

Focused energy beam coming down from space is called a Lightning Strike ! Nature already figured out all fuel transportation issues and devised lightning for us :)

Echoing in my head... (5, Funny)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276695)

"The Agricultural Ministry is Not in Charge of Gundam"

practical space project (1)

AndyTheSE (1533953) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276723)

Wow! Go Japan! This project would not only further develop space based technology but also would support politically correct green energy production needs. Space based power might actually benefit mankind, as opposed to exploring Mars! Why can't the U.S. come up with space projects which are actually practical? I can just see the next James Bond movie - where the bad guy gets fried by a space-beam of microwaves.....

3.4 kilowatts per house average? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276773)

What are they doing in their homes to use 3.4 KW average? An individual house could easily peak at that, but averaged together? In the midwest that would be at least a $200 electric bill, or more like $600+ in coastie-land. I usually pay like $50 to $75, and I have plenty of electronic hardware. Do they each have a home aluminum refinery in every basement, like the Chinese tried to have a steel mill in every backyard during the great leap forward? Charge batteries for giant robots?

I understand they don't have mcmansions over there, so even a grow operation would be too small to use that much electricity...

Military Applications? (1)

popo (107611) | more than 3 years ago | (#29276777)

What are the chances this has military applications? The energy output seems relatively insignificant for the cost. But the capability of "beaming" this much energy to earth strikes me as useful from a strategic standpoint.

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