Generating Solar Power From The Moon

Following the worst natural disaster in recorded history, Japan is seeking alternative forms of energy production. The country had recently become increasingly dependent on nuclear power for its homes and businesses. The March 11th earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant has caused the government to set their sights on a safer method of alternative energy.

Shimizu Corporation, one of Japan’s largest construction firms, proposed a promising plan in 2010. The Luna Ring would be a 400 kilometer wide band of solar cells around the entire 11,000 kilometer long equator of Earth’s moon. The energy produced would be sent back to Earth through microwaves and laser light. If successful, Shimizu believes it could produce enough energy to fuel the entire world so that there would no longer be a need for energy from oil or coal. The solar cells would provide the equivalent of 17 billion tons of oil energy. All of the energy that we would need could be imported from the moon, which would eliminate the harmful gases being generated from our current method of energy production. Construction on the project could begin as early as 2035, although much funding and planning is needed in preparation. Shimizu scientists have not offered any estimate of the costs the project would require.

The Moon always keeps the same side towards Earth, called the near side of the Moon. Therefore, energy can only be sent to Earth from this near side. The Lunar Ring would be able to transfer power through cables to the near side of the Moon so that energy could be transported to Earth at any stage of the Moon’s phases. From there, the energy could be sent directly to any country through the technology of microwaves and laser light. Special rectifying antennas will be stationed on Earth, which would receive the microwaves and convert it to usable electricity. The other laser light receiving facilities would be placed in oceans and deserts at the Earth’s equator where there is no cloudy weather. These sites would convert the laser light into electric power by using photoelectric cells. Sea water in these areas can also be used to create hydrogen, which can be used as a fuel and an alternative to gasoline.

Even before the March 11th disaster, Japan was leading the way in solar energy. Residential units had already begun to install high-end solar panels following the recent legislation on clean energy subsidies. With the ongoing problems at the nuclear plants, the government is likely to increase incentives for solar energy production and research. The Japanese public is also progressively supporting alternative energy, through solar power, wind, wave, and geothermal energy. As one of the leading construction companies, Shimizu has the technology and experience that makes this Moon power endeavor look promising in the quest to achieve sustainability and clean energy for generations to come.

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