Off-world Power Generation
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<Earth> <-clearsky-burst-laser-- <satellite>
Near-earth or Lagrange-point solar array about the size of Nebraska to power the globe.
- Energy requirement of NYC: ~3000 trillion BTU in 2016 = 3000 trillion btu / 365 days = 3.4E+11 btu/hr = 1.0036680479e+11 watts = 100 GW
- PV power stations collect more power than solar thermal power stations. They seem to average ~3 MW/km^2 (throwing out 2 ridiculous outliers).
- Traditional single-junction cells have a maximum theoretical efficiency of 33.16% more. In reality it is around 18.7%.
- A 65"x39" (1.64 m^2) solar panel made in 2018 produces ~320W.
- About 48% of solar energy hitting the Earth reaches the surface. Perhaps optimistic, but we will divide by .48 to get energy-in-space vs on-earth.
- Approximate energy absorbable by a solar panel in space: 320W / 1.64m^2 / .48% = 400W/m^2 in space
- Approximate required size of a solar array "near Earth" (including l1) to power NYC: 100GW / 400W/m^s = 250 sq km
- 1 out of every 811 humans on earth live in NYC, so 250 sq km dish * 811 (assuming every human uses as much energy as a New Yorker) requires a solar array of only around 200,000 sq km - the size of Nebraska - to power the globe. A physicist confirms on the back of an envelope that the area needed will be "near-(UK)-country-sized".
Keep it as simple as possible, but no less.
- We need to optimize free space power transmission in lab conditions using currently-available consumer electronics.
- We need to create a solar panel array with robotics that can self-assemble.
- We need robotics that can precisely and safely aim laser energy to a distant target using a real-time handshaking protocol.
- We need to determine the cheapest possible way to launch a payload from Earth and navigate it to a final stable destination (lagrange or Earth orbit).
- We need to determine the requirements to receive laser power at an Earth-based power plant.
- We need to crowdfund the project.