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Palau May Get Satellite Power In the Next Decade

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the working-on-the-tan dept.

Space 177

davidwr writes "The island nation of Palau is looking into creating a satellite-to-ground power transmission system. The system would use low-orbit satellites to transmit power to a receiver in bursts, unlike some other plans which rely on geostationary satellites. The initial 1-megawatt project is supposed to go online 'as early as' 2012 for a cost of $0.8 billion. Time will tell if this can be made cost-effective compared to traditional solar or other sources of power."

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177 comments

why Palau? (4, Interesting)

xubu_caapn (1086401) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803718)

so why Palau? is the fact that its an island nation preferable for this technology?

Something about water and melanin (5, Funny)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803844)

Brown people surrounded by large bodies of water are better equipped to deal with being bombarded by intense solar radiation than white people surrounded by large buildings.

Re:Something about water and melanin (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803938)

[Why do it first on an island?] Brown people surrounded by large bodies of water are better equipped to deal with being bombarded by intense solar radiation than white people surrounded by large buildings.

If I was modding this, I would be dumbfounded to find an appropriate mod tag. It makes you think, but just smells sooooo wrong.
     

Re:Something about water and melanin (3, Insightful)

Ignis Flatus (689403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804074)

it may be right, but for the wrong reasons. skin color isn't going to make a difference when being hit by a misaligned microwave beam. use white and brown eggs in your own microwave to test this theory.

Re:Something about water and melanin (0)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804144)

But melanine (dark skin) does block ultra-violate radiation. I just don't know how far that extends across the spectrum.

Re:Something about water and melanin (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21804288)

It doesn't matter whether it affects them more or less, or why. What it comes down to is they're only wogs so who gives a fuck anyway?

Re:Something about water and melanin (2, Funny)

mikiN (75494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804868)

Microwaves are colour blind, you (sk)insensitive clod!

Just a demo (5, Interesting)

dunadan67 (689682) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803728)

The description here is a bit misleading. From the sound of the article, Palau is really just a testbed for this technology. I'm assuming that they aren't footing any of the bill that is about 6X their GDP.

Re:Just a demo (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804028)

The description here is a bit misleading. From the sound of the article, Palau is really just a testbed for this technology. I'm assuming that they aren't footing any of the bill...

I went to RTFA, but was blinded by a huge flash from space
     

Re:Just a demo (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804916)

This gives a whole different meaning to that Bruce Springsteen/Manfred Mann's Earth Band song...

Re:Just a demo (0)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804340)

Indeed. The slashdot post claims that "the island nation of Palau is looking into creating a satellite-to-ground power transmission system" but after reading a couple of sentences in that article, the reader realizes that this is nothing more than a US military project, where they are testing a means to get energy from space to any point in the globe, which is a godsend in terms of economy (cheap energy) and logistics (no need to carry fuel from A to B). The only reason the US military chose Palau is that it's a puny archipelago nation with an extremely low population density (20000 inhabitants per 458 sq km). Those characteristics will reduce the probability of a nasty disaster (firing an energy beam from a moving platform from space into the surface?) and help study the effects of a misfiring, for example.

So this has nothing to do with Palau getting an hightech energy source. Palau is simply the guinea pig for a project ran by the US military that aims to further develop their war machine. I really don't believe that Palau will benefit at all from this energy source. There won't be 1k homes powered by any US experimental project and surely the US won't dedicate such a valuable war asset to power a puny, irrelevant island nation.

Re:Just a demo (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804978)

Should we expect a real-life version of "Die Another Day" with some rich weirdo turning a peaceful lagoon into an instant Jacuzzi with some low Earth-orbiting help while aiming for world domination?

urban re-design and development (5, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803734)

The island nation of Palau is looking into creating a satellite-to-ground power transmission system.

I'm sure the US Army already has such a thing, although they probably plan on using it to make glass parking lots.

SimCity (4, Funny)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803742)

Anyone else just flash on an image of a beam from space getting misaligned with the receiver and vaporizing sections of your city?

Re:SimCity (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803808)

explosions aren't the problem with this power level, inducing currents in conductive materials like say electronics is. more powerful versions with a tighter beam may be able to do physical damage rather than electronuc damage but they are likely a few years off.

Re:SimCity (4, Interesting)

rickwood (450707) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804078)

One solution is to power the satellite with a return beam from the Earth station. If the main beam wanders, it loses power and cuts off. There are other solutions [wikipedia.org].

Re:SimCity (1)

name*censored* (884880) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804864)

Great idea, but what if it rotates instead of wandering? Perhaps you could use a frequency with an extremely high refraction index in air, so that if it deviates in angle then it simply dissipates or reflects in the lower atmosphere. Of course, this would require the satellite to be a good distance outside of earth, and the base station to be absolutely perfectly perpendicular to the beam.

Asimov (5, Interesting)

radius1214 (1082581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803792)

Isaac Asimov wrote about a power source like this in "I, Robot." There were stations in space that absorbed solar energy and transmitted it back to Earth. If the ray became out of align, or if a magnetic storm intercepted the ray on its way toward the receptacle on the ground, it would distort the energy causing severe damage to huge portions of the planet. In the case of Palau, if they can get this technology working properly, it would be interesting to see how the United States or the EU would use this to aid their combat against global warming and non-renewable energy. Maybe the Space Station will get equipped with a huge solar array to send renewable energy down to Earth, eh?

Re:Asimov (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803820)

Eh, I'm not sure I'd put that on the space station. I'm not sure I'd put the transmitter on anything that includes human life. It could be serviceable by ISS personnel, but it should be it's own satellite being in case anything happens....like an overload. I'm still interested on exactly how the energy will be beamed down to Earth safely. And of course if someone accidentally looks at it, will they go blind?

Mod parent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21803896)

-1, talking out of ass.

Re:Asimov (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21804032)

Energy from space does not prevent global warming, in fact is if the only _sustainable_ way of creating global warming.

Re:Asimov (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804542)

But energy from space can go to space again, the problem with the greenhouse effect is that it makes it harder for the energy to leave than to enter. With fewer greenhouse gasses the energy that gets beamed down can leave just as easily, too.

trivial solution (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804818)

simply move the solar panels to being in front of the sun. And as somebody else pointed out, if we lose the CO2 emissions, we will radiate plenty of energy.

Re:Asimov (2, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804056)

My AP Bio teacher back in the day talked about this technology being about the worst thing possible for global warming, as it actually increases the amount of energy coming in to the Earth. Even oil just burns energy that was stored as organic matter ages ago.

Nuclear is still the best way to deal with global warming.

Re:Asimov (1)

ppc_digger (961188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804452)

Maybe it's increasing the amount of energy that comes to Earth, but that's not the problem. The problem with fossil fuels is that they release Carbon that was captured in them for millions of years to the atmosphere.

Re:Asimov (2, Informative)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804482)

The idea behind global warming is the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which traps existing energy rather than allowing it to escape out into space. If the decrease in emissions allows more energy to escape than is being introduced into the system, you have a net benefit as far as global warming is concerned.

Secondly, if you produce energy through Solar power like this that you otherwise would have produced using oil, you aren't producing a net increase in energy. The oil is still stored there, not introduced into the global system. Indeed, energy from ANY source, including nuclear, increases the amount of energy introduced into the global system.

The only differences between using solar power as opposed to oil or nuclear are one of these is likely to be more efficient (damned if I know which one) - and Solar power is renewable until the sun runs out, at which point we've got bigger problems to worry about.

Re:Asimov (1)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804518)

Actually, your bio teacher was stupid.

The thing is, one CO2 molecule will trap much more energy in the atmosphere over its lifetime there (which can, theoretically be almost forever) than it generated for us when it was burnt.

For a beaming technology to work, it has to have relatively low power loss to the atmosphere, which means that most of the energy given to the atmosphere will actually be just waste heat from our appliances, which is so minimal compared to the total amount of energy the atmosphere gets from the sun that it will not matter.

Ok, maybe I've been a bit confusing here, but to summarize it: Even if ALL of our energy came from a beam like this, it would not have any measurable effect on the earths temperatures. Not directly anyway, chemical reactions happening as a result of the beam is another issue although I don't think that would have any impact either.

Re:Asimov (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804790)

My AP Bio teacher back in the day talked about this technology being about the worst thing possible for global warming, as it actually increases the amount of energy coming in to the Earth.
So does the sun, every single second. Quick, somebody douse the damn thing !

Re:Asimov (1)

yariv (1107831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804946)

How is it relevant to global warming? After all, oil is generated if you burn it or not, it doesn't matter. The question isn't how much energy there is in earth, because then sending satellites into orbit is the best thing you can do (do you know how much energy there is in a 500 kilo satellite? Its 500*c^2!). There is a great difference between heat and energy. There might be problems with this technology, like birds catching fire in midair, or missing the receiver and burning a city, but it's not global warming.

Re:Asimov (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804062)

Asimov, although a legend in his own time, probably shouldn't be your primary source of scientific knowledge now, or in the future.

You're kidding yourself.. (1)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804438)

If you think the US would use this to combat global warming. More like use it to combat "terrorists".

Re:You're kidding yourself.. (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804798)

If you think the US would use this to combat global warming. More like use it to combat "terrorists".
After all there is merely a "fight" going on against global warming whereas there is a *war* going on against terrorism. Not at all the same thing.

Unless the thing against global warming escalates to full scale war (maybe somebody could "find" that Kerdjikistan has Weapons of Mass Marming and invade them ?)...

Re:Asimov (1)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804470)

Isaac Asimov wrote about a power source like this in "I, Robot." There were stations in space that absorbed solar energy and transmitted it back to Earth. If the ray became out of align, or if a magnetic storm intercepted the ray on its way toward the receptacle on the ground, it would distort the energy causing severe damage to huge portions of the planet.

I'm sure this type of problem is addressd in the core design of the system. As a simple parallel: I had two way satellite internet, which involves Joe Schmoe like me being able to transmit from my roof to a satellite in space. Whoohoo, the damage I could do there!

Not. The transmitter is very fussy about when it can transmit; it has to be very precisely locked onto the satellite's carrier, with a strong signal, and minimal measured cross-polarization. If I were to point this at another satellite for some fun (or even move it slightly off exact alignment with the right satellite), it simply wouldn't transmit. I'm sure the megawatt energy transmitter in space would have a cutoff in milliseconds if it were detected it weren't perfectly aligned with the receiver. The receiver could simply send out a very narrow carrier (laser or radio) that the energy transmitter locks on; if that carrier isn't in its sights (sending a wonderfully specific encrypted validation/identification stream that can be verified, and not spoofed), then it simply doesn't transmit.

(Note, this isn't subject to the long ping times for stuff in space; the ground based carrier is transmitting constantly, and the space based energy thingy can stop its beam the instant it doesn't get that carrier. Also, its mentioned this system uses "bursts," which can provide further safety/validation/testing of the alignment before any energy is sent.)

One wonders what atmospheric conditions would do to the beam, although I guess it could poke a hole through clouds (and birds and planes :P) pretty easily.

Did we run out of unhabbited islands? (1)

dragisha (788) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803830)

Or this is already almost safe technology?

As compared to early nuclear energy development, of course.

Re:Did we run out of unhabbited islands? (1)

muffel (42979) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804022)

From TFA: "...that Palau's uninhabited Helen Island would be an ideal spot for a small demonstration project"

So, no, we obviously didn't run out of them.

What kind of boondoggle is this? (5, Insightful)

SKorvus (685199) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803842)

They're paying $800 per watt, when a company is now shipping solar panels that cost under $1/watt [nanosolar.com], AND have a single, expensive point of failure? What is the point of beaming solar energy down from space, to a tropical island?

Ground-based solar including panels and batteries could be built local to each home or village, at a fraction of the cost of this over-engineered idea.

Re:What kind of boondoggle is this? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21803866)

"It's for my science project!"

Re:What kind of boondoggle is this? (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803970)

It's for my science project!

I can find you a better way to kill an ant than a giant space laser.
     

Re:What kind of boondoggle is this? (2)

sokoban (142301) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803932)

Ground-based solar including panels and batteries could be built local to each home or village, at a fraction of the cost of this over-engineered idea.
Maybe they have higher power requirements than there is area available for solar panels. They are an island after all. Space is kind of limited.

Re:What kind of boondoggle is this? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803954)

Maybe they have higher power requirements than there is area available for solar panels. They are an island after all.

But one can also try solar boats/barges and wave power, and they would still be far cheaper.
   

Re:What kind of boondoggle is this? (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803966)

They're paying $800 per watt, when a company is now shipping solar panels that cost under $1/watt

Uh.....unions?

     

Re:What kind of boondoggle is this? Units... (0)

BytePusher (209961) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804140)

Just a note, I think there is a great deal of confusion about what a watt is. "The watt (symbol: W) is the SI derived unit of power, equal to one joule of energy per second. ... Power and energy are frequently confused in the general media, for instance when a device is said to be rated at "100 watts per hour", which does not make any sense since a watt is a rate of doing work or using energy of 1 joule of energy per second. As a rate itself, a watt does not need to be followed by a time designation, unless one is talking about a change in power over time, analogous to an acceleration or deceleration.

Because a joule as a quantity of energy does not have a readily imagined size to the layperson, the non-SI unit watt-hour, often in its multiples such the kilowatt-hour or higher prefixes, is frequently used as a unit of energy, especially by energy-supply companies (electricity and natural gas suppliers) which often quote charges by the kilowatt-hour. A kilowatt-hour is the amount of energy equivalent to a power of 1 kilowatt running for 1 hour:

        (1 kWh)(1000 W/kW)(3600 s/h) = 3,600,000 Ws = 3,600,000 J = 3.6 MJ." (wikipedia.org: Watt)

Re:What kind of boondoggle is this? Units... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21804168)

well thank you bill nye the science guy! now if you'll just point out where this device states "100 watts per hour" your diatribe will be justified. until then... stfu!

Re:What kind of boondoggle is this? Units... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21804366)

(1 kWh)(1000 W/kW)(3600 s/h) = 3,600,000 Ws = 3,600,000 J = 3.6 MJ." (wikipedia.org: Watt)
...or 22.46943413 YeV.

Re:What kind of boondoggle is this? (1)

the grace of R'hllor (530051) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804160)

1) It's a testbed. The technology is new. Prices will fall if it's successful. If it weren't expensive to try, we'd be having this already.
2) They're in the tropics. Frequent rains will not only disturb solar collection, it will likely cause excessive required maintenance on the panels.
3) It's a frigging island. Construction-space is limited. Putting the solar array in orbit means you have *oodles* of space (no pun) for solar panels, many times greater than what you could get on any island. Also, no clouds, and no storms to interfere with your collection. Beaming it down should be done only when atmospheric conditions allow it, so that you won't get runaway beams melting people. This does mean they have to buffer the energy somehow, but that can be done.
4) Mobile power would be useful. Drive a few capacitor trucks and a receiver to a disaster site, and have the satelite beam power there when in favorable circumstances. No need for a fuel supply. Same goes for battlefields.

It's probably not the be-all and end-all of energy production, but it's a very good idea to test this out, mainly because of the potential. The amount of solar panels you can put up there without causing any interference on earth (ie, by blacking out a significant portion of desert climates), as well as the fact that a mobile power platform means you can burst-transmit power to any area that needs it in the event of a catastrophy. No landlines required.

Re:What kind of boondoggle is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21804776)

I was thinking deep space missions.

Re:What kind of boondoggle is this? (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804574)

Yeah, but you're missing the point. They'll be in debt for 2000 years so the banks will be happy, the people will be able to beam with pride at how technologically advanced they are and the government get to look like they're important.
 

Re:What kind of boondoggle is this? (1)

ctid (449118) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804718)

Why don't you read the article? The government is not paying for this - they are allowing some commercial outfit to put the receiving system on an uninhabited island. The article doesn't go into it, but I suspect that the company is paying the government. The idea is not to generate electricity for anyone - this setup is to test safety.

Re:What kind of boondoggle is this? (2)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804682)

when a company is now shipping solar panels that cost under $1/watt


No they don't, the $1/W price is what they hope getting the price down to with time. Or put in a slightly different way $1/W is a press release from their marketing department which doesn't accurately specify under what conditions it applies.

Perhaps, you did not notice WHO is pushing it? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804860)

The US military came out with saying that they idea is doable for them, and with some real innovation, for the world. In terms of the US military, they want the ability to deliver power to troops on the ground as well as equipment there. A fly-by, combined with ultra-capacitors that DOD is funding, and now, we have the ability to deliver LOADS of power.

considering global warming + small island nations (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803854)

the side bonus to this system is that palau can widen the aperture and fuzzy the focus on the satellite, to the "ablate" setting, and burn off the ocean water encroaching on the last bit of high ground on the atoll

Obligatory reference to that movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21803862)

One word: Popcorn!

We really do not need this stuff (1, Flamebait)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803890)

It's already been pointed out that once solar cells are properly commercialised - and this is rapidly getting closer - the entire United States generation baseload could be provided from panels on public land in Arizona alone. Anybody who has been following recent trends in power generation will see that there are basically four threads which are coming together quite fast; solar, wind, nuclear and thermonuclear (i.e. the Toshiba proposal for small inherently safe reactors that could be mainly used for area heating). They are all based on existing technology most of which is over 50 years old. Compared to coal and oil, the safety record of nuclear power generation is pretty good; the Chernobyl incident actually highlighted that the nest way forward with developing countries is to give them the best nuclear technology, because it is the safest.

So why waste time and money on these insane schemes? Presumably because the hidden agenda is military. The military don't care if their beamed power source ionises the hell out of the atmosphere (so long as their radio still works) or accidentally vaporises a few villages. They just want gee whiz toys to play with.

In a world with ample generation capacity, oil would be used to deliver power to areas which were unsuitable for alternatives. Small islands can be supplied nicely with a combination of solar and wind power, and stationary Diesel generators for fill in. Of course it's unglamorous technology, but for real engineers that's a plus. Orbiting power stations, with the incredible difficulty of maintenance, the vast quantities of oil needed to produce the fuel for the rockets that place them, the dangers of misaligned beams, the unknown effects on the atmosphere of beaming large amounts of ionising radiation through it, versus investing far less money in getting advanced solar cells to market faster? If you've got an emotional age over 16, no contest.

Re:We really do not need this stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21804556)

id have to go with the hidden agenda being military idea...

Long, uphill climb (2, Insightful)

Stuntmonkey (557875) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803900)

Hmmm, 1MW for $0.8B, that's $800/Watt. About 800x the cost of coal, and 200x the cost of old-school photovoltaics. That's quite a lot of ground to make up, especially given that presumably the largest component of expense -- launch costs -- have a very low likelihood of improving by this factor until something like the space elevator comes along.

This story seems like a hoax. The nation of Palau has only 20,000 people, and a annual GDP of $160M. Are they really going to invest in a single R&D project that costs five times their national GDP? I call BS.

Re:Long, uphill climb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21804136)

Well, why don't you read TFA before you post: They propose to build it there, nit toget their money there. Palau is not paying for it. Oh wait. That is so obvious you didn't even have to read it. Just thinking for a second would have been enough.

Re:Long, uphill climb (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804142)

This story seems like a hoax. The nation of Palau has only 20,000 people, and a annual GDP of $160M. Are they really going to invest in a single R&D project that costs five times their national GDP? I call BS.
they probably are not paying for it themselves, it sounds like an experimental project funded from off the island with significantly more investment money available than that whole island is worth.

Re:Long, uphill climb (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804466)

Read the article. The Pentagon wants to put a megawatt solar panel on a LEO satellite to beam power down to the ground on a deserted tropical island. It's a test bed for the technology. Might that technology have some interesting uses, uses that might seem to be an awfully good deal for only a billion dollars?

Re:Long, uphill climb (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804694)

This story seems like a hoax.

How would you know? You didn't even read it.

Are they really going to invest in a single R&D project that costs five times their national GDP?

No, "they" aren't going to invest any money in the project.

I call BS.

I call karma whore.

tatoo: "the math, the math" (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21803918)

I don't get how satellites can be cheaper than simply setting up bunches of solar panels on the ground. Putting poundage into space and managing it is damned expensive, let alone the precision aiming technology. I don't get the accounting here. Please help me, I'm a doctor, not an accountant (well ok, I'm not actually a doc, but it makes a better cliche).

Re:tatoo: "the math, the math" (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804048)

It's an Island, There is no ground!

Yes it has a one time high fee, but afterwards there is no fuel and the system generates power for a long long time.

Re:tatoo: "the math, the math" (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804130)

There was a google tech talk on orbital power [google.com] I just saw yesterday on the subject. The basic idea is preparing for a global power system based on renewable energy. Their argument is that power generation from light at the surface is inefficient because the atmosphere is not transparent on most of the sun's spectrum (I guess this means the "visible spectrum" is evolved from this atmosphereic property). In contrast, there's much more light to be had in space. I guess they believe that aiming it can be done.

The tipping point is the design of military lasers. Massive Real Genius power style lasers. As is explained in the lecture briefly, lasers can direct more power through the atmosphere on a particular wavelength, and then tune the receiver for maximum efficiency. Recently a US defense contractor disclosed the development of a 10MWatt laser or something ridiculous for field use. Since last I knew, there's a UN ban on blinding lasers, I guess they intend to build laser tanks.

The places where this Palau satellite differs screams "military testbed technology" more than "usable power source". Orbital laser weapons? That's evil genius quality right there!

There are side benefits (4, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804016)

All the cooked birds you can eat.

Re:There are side benefits (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804138)

Plus, with correctly placed mirrors, you can use it to roast enemies at neighboring islands!

Re:There are side benefits (1)

Edie O'Teditor (805662) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804274)

with correctly placed mirrors, you can use it to roast enemies at neighboring islands!
And then eat them too.

Same sized receiver? (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804072)

Article: One NASA study visualized solar-panel arrays 3 by 6 miles in size, transmitting power to similarly sized rectennas on Earth.

1. That could glow pretty bright in the night sky. Environmentalists may complain.

2. So much for real-estate savings.

3. How the hell did the name "rectenna" get past the marketing department? Must be from the Uranus Ad Agency.
   

Re:Same sized receiver? (1)

znu (31198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804294)

1. That could glow pretty bright in the night sky. Environmentalists may complain.

Only if they can see microwaves.

2. So much for real-estate savings.

The sort of rectenna you'd use for something like this amounts of a grid of wires suspended on polls. It wouldn't block much of the visible light. Just put on existing farmland, and keep growing crops under it. The energy densities aren't nearly high enough to fry stuff... and anyway, the rectenna catches most of it. (That's the point.)

Re:Same sized receiver? (1)

richard.cs (1062366) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804512)

1. That could glow pretty bright in the night sky. Environmentalists may complain.

Only if they can see microwaves.

I assumed he was referring to the reflected sunlight from such a large area of solar panels, in the same way that current satellites are visible in the night sky but much brighter due to its size (the Iridium communications satellites [wikipedia.org] are particularly well known for this). I don't see it as being a big issue though.

sensible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21804214)

From the full article : "You can get basically unlimited carbon-free power from this"
Uhm... Yes... After you launched lots of tons of material into the sky. Which happens to consume a hell of a lot of fuel.

Re:sensible? (0, Troll)

complex(179,-70) (1101799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804360)

TINSFAAL, which is something environmentalists prefer to conveniently forget. Batteries in hybrid cars grow on trees and hydrogen for "zero emission" engines forces itself into fuel-cells.

Re:sensible? (1)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804626)

TINSFAAL, which is something environmentalists prefer to conveniently forget. Batteries in hybrid cars grow on trees and hydrogen for "zero emission" engines forces itself into fuel-cells.

UH-hunh. err,
I believe you mean TANSTAAFL [wikipedia.org]

Thank you, that is all.

Re:sensible? (1)

complex(179,-70) (1101799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804696)

Hey, to each its own. If that's your belief, I hope it brings you peace and happiness. There could even be a hint of truth in your belief, which make it better than many other religions.

Re:sensible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21804910)

TINSFAAL, which is something environmentalists prefer to conveniently forget.

Actually, it is not. The idea is to have less of an impact than other methods. It is known that batteries come at a cost. Likewise, where do you think that Hydrogen is likely to come from? Oil. Do you think that environmentalists forget that? Nope. In fact, environmentalist do not push the hydrogen. It is big business who do that.

Instead, most environmentalists are pushing conservation combined with alternative energy creation. The less vocal ones (which is the majority) are also pushing nukes, over coal and gas. So, why do trolls like you come along and say these lies? Does it make you feel good? Do you like looking like a total idiot?

In other news... (1)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804224)

1. Palau holds the world ransom for 1 million dollars or they aim the parsons project on them. 2. Palau tops world exports of fried birds..

Beat the waves (2, Funny)

complex(179,-70) (1101799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804328)

I can already see a great TV reality show. "Beat the Waves", where contestants have 90 minutes to cross the island, preferably while trying to slow down the others in any way possible. Beer and chips ready, GO.

Will this cause Global Warming?? (1)

ZeroData00 (223410) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804528)

I'm thinking if beaming a high energy beam through the atmosphere is really a good idea. If the air is not fully opaque to the beam it will absorb enegry from the beam which would warm the air and the earth. Also it might cause chemical reacions IE smog. I am thinking that someone has done research on the possible harm it might do???

A good way to make your country vulnerable (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804596)

Now china has working satellite kill weapons no doubt many other will follow (if they don't have them already). How many countries would want to risk their power infrastructure being vulnerable to someone pressing a launch button thousands of miles away with no risk to themselves whatsoever?

what? (2, Insightful)

sentientbrendan (316150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804630)

so their plan is to put a solar panel in space... because solar radiation is 8 times more powerful... umm... I'm pretty sure that putting the same surface area of solar panels in space is going to cost *way* more than 8 times as much as putting it on the ground.

Then of course there's the idea that we will somehow magically "beam" the energy to the ground. Here's an idea, we let the sunlight beam itself to the ground, instead of putting an enormous expensive satellite as an unnecessary intermediary in the process.

This is one of the sci fi ideas that sounds cool in a story because it involves big machines and lasers, but is totally nonsensical when you actually take ten seconds to think about it. File this in the same category as giant fighting robots and transporter beams.

Re:what? (1)

sholden (12227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805168)

It's all about size and ease of setup on the ground.

The actual use is, your army is invading some country far away, and is setting up a base camp in the middle of nowhere and would like some power. Sure, they could carry acres of solar cells and lay out a huge shiny "please use this to target your weapons" array of solar panels. Or you could setup the rectenna, plug the coordinates the GPS reports in and have a megawatt of power next time one one the satellites passes overhead.

mutant plants? (0)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804698)

so when they get a commercial operation going, beaming gigawatts down at a similar radiation ('cos that's what it is) intensity to sunlight, how will that affect the wildlife? There's bound to be gaps in the receiver antenna array, if only to get maintenance vehicles into the place. That means there will be plants growing and they will therefore "see" the radiation. It won't be long before the radiation causes mutations and the plants start to adapt to it.

It could make the arguments about GM crops look like a polite debate

Cost Effective? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804702)

"Independence from other countries for your energy -- priceless"

Sometimes its not about raw dollars, but security.

Reasoning (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21804956)

Well, I think this makes compelete sense - a lot of island communities tend to stick with alternative power supplies. In the US look at Maui, where solar power trumps all other power simply due to the fact that half of the island is brand-spanking-new in geologic terms, and putting power lines and poles in freshly hardened volcanic rock is prohibitively expensive. I can only imagine the same applies here.
Also, does anyone remember GI Joe the movie? The broadcast energy device? So awesome that a childhood fictional device is actually coming to fruition :)

let's do the math (3, Informative)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805014)

Kinda silly, but let's do the math. We will assume you can build and loft the required equipment for the stated price. A satellite at 300 miles up is going to be overhead for maybe 10 minutes. Let's assume as in TFA it will send down a megawatt during that time. So on the average it's beaming down 166 kilowatts. A kilowatt-hour might cost as much as 20 cents on an island, so this satellite gives them about $34 per hour.

Now if they went to the UN Bank to borrow the $800 million, they might get an interest rate of 8%. The first year, the interest cost alone is $64 million. The satellite has beamed back 24 * 366 * $34 or a tad under $300,000. This plan can't pay back even 1/200th of the cost of money.

Re:let's do the math (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21805122)

How much money does it cost to get that kind of power to troops in a field or to the equipment? It costs a LOT more than this.
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