In article , Jeff Layman
We've been using a lot more fusion power recently. Last time I looked,
solar power *was* fusion power. It's just that it's not very efficient
from that far away (not in our latitudes anyway!).
True, but given cheap enough solar collectors, etc, can be a useful
addition. The efficiency/cost of these have continued to rise. Note also
the recent IEEE 'Spectrum' article on using windows as energy collectors at
Given how much income the Arabian area gets from oil I wonder if they might
start putting up solar farms on a large scale with dc lines to the north,
so they can sell us their sunshine. :-) The capital costs are high, but
then so are the costs of oil wells, multi-thousand mile pipelines, etc.
I'm not holding my breath waiting for earth-based fusion power. I reckon
we'd have more chance of large arrays of space-based solar cells
generating microwave power and transmitting that to earth.
The snag with that I suspect is people being suspicious of having orbiting
stations that can transmit down multi-megawatt beams. I've seen worries
ranging from "It might harm birds that fly through the beam" to "that might
make a serious weapon" expressed. However as engineering it remains
possible. Not sure about the politics.
But in principle, yes, they are an interesting idea. Another snag is that -
as with conventional views of fusion - they require a big expensive
facility. The ideas about small scale tocomaks might allow much smaller
generators - cheaper and easier to have distributed around the country
where most convenient.
it occurs to me from the above that it might be possible to 'cubesat'
orbital power recovery from the sun. Just build a fleet of small sats, then
use them as a phased array to send down the power to where it is needed. No
need for one large physical antenna or collector. I've not seen anyone else
mention this idea, but it seems obvious now it has come to mind.
Potentially, could also work with different 'investors' adding their own
set of cubesats to such a fleet and then taking the relevant percentage of
the demand/income. Orbital version of the grid authority required. :-)
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