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Solar Collecting Megastructure?


TransformerRobot
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Hey, sorry that it's been years since I last spoke to any of you, but I thought of something that would be best discussed with any physicists and/or engineers around here.

There was this science fiction story I remember hearing about, where a long megastructure worked as a sort of train between Earth and an orbital space station. At some point I also heard that the megastructure would not fall down, because it was kept stable by Earth's rotation.

I was thinking that maybe, by applying the same physics and engineering factors, people could make gigantic solar panel that reached out into space, allowing for even more energy collecting than solar panels we have today.

Would it work? If so, how? If not, why not? Are there certain hurdles we'd have to cross first?

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We first need a material strong enough to make a cable that can support its own weight at that distance. Nanotubes are a candidate.

Then we need to put an asteroid in geostationary orbit to attach the cable to.

We also need superconductors to transport the electricity to the surface without the losses rendering the whole thing useless.

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21 minutes ago, Bender said:

We first need a material strong enough to make a cable that can support its own weight at that distance. Nanotubes are a candidate.

Then we need to put an asteroid in geostationary orbit to attach the cable to.

We also need superconductors to transport the electricity to the surface without the losses rendering the whole thing useless.

Could we just collect the solar energy in batteries and then transport them back to Earth?

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Solar Collecting Megastructure?

 

1 hour ago, TransformerRobot said:

I was thinking that maybe, by applying the same physics and engineering factors, people could make gigantic solar panel that reached out into space, allowing for even more energy collecting than solar panels we have today.

Aren't you talking about "Dyson sphere".. ?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyson_sphere

 

Edited by Sensei
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Sounds like a space elevator connected to a space based solar power installation? Mostly SBSP (or SPS - space power satellite) proposals use beamed power transmission systems from satellites to receivers on Earth, but, whilst technically possible, face big hurdles. The reality is it is much easier and cheaper to do solar on Earth - even with the complementary technologies to overcome the intermittency - and space elevators are purely hypothetical and not currently even technically possible.

Rather than SBSP being the necessary leap forward to fix our dirty energy dependence, I think fixing our energy problems down here are the essential prerequisites to sustaining our Earth economy long enough to develop the means to build viable SBSP. Which makes it unnecessary, I suppose.

I have always wondered if those transmission technologies for beaming down to Earth could be used to beam power up in one region on Earth to beam down in another, ie as a global power transmission system. From my reading it looks like the losses from transmitting one way (down) could be manageable but doing it twice (up then down) or thrice (up, across to another transmission satellite and then down, ie full global coverage) would multiply the transmission losses beyond usefulness. I don't expect any one-size-fits-all grand energy/emissions/climate fixes are likely to save us from having to do it piecemeal, using a combination of existing and developing technologies.

I will have issues with optimist/advocates of space dreams who use our serious Earth based concerns about clean energy or other global sustainability issues to drive subsidising the space technologies and activities they want for other reasons - without reliable business plans and realistic expectations for achieving their primary aims.

Edited by Ken Fabian
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On 7/25/2018 at 10:09 PM, Sensei said:

Aren't you talking about "Dyson sphere".. ?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyson_sphere

That would be the way to go in the end. But as a first step how about an inverted sphere? Enclosing our world inside an increasingly dense array of solar panels.

If such a structure allowed us to choose how much light was received, that's global warming taken care of. And if the panels could be produced at our moon base of the future, that would probably be a lot less hassle than launching them into position.

On 7/26/2018 at 12:50 AM, Ken Fabian said:

I have always wondered if those transmission technologies for beaming down to Earth could be used to beam power up in one region on Earth to beam down in another, ie as a global power transmission system.

You mean put lasers in space that we can charge from earth? Also might a global power transmission system not lead to a global power company? All this has got me wondering if tin foil hats turned inside out can be used as solar panels.

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55 minutes ago, Star Walls said:

If such a structure allowed us to choose how much light was received, that's global warming taken care of.

I gave such advice in the past..

..but it's enormous amount of work required...

...but people are even unable to fight global warming here on the Earth.. some even rejecting it's even happening...

 

 

 

Edited by Sensei
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