Whether they’re producing voltage directly from solar rays or focusing them to melt salt like Ivanpah, even Earth’s biggest and baddest solar power plants are hamstrung by all this damnable atmosphere getting in the way. But a new kind of off-world solar energy plant could soon provide the whole planet with plenty of power—we just have to finish figuring out how to build and operate it. Energy Production in Spaaaaaaaace! With the advent of silicon-based photovoltaic solar panels—the kind that directly convert solar energy to electrical current—some 60 years ago, researchers immediately looked to the skies as the ideal place to collect solar energy. coque iphone pas cher Up there, you don’t have miles and miles of atmosphere and clouds absorbing, scattering, or blocking out the sun’s incoming rays. That means photovoltaic panels should, conceivably, be able to operate at (or very near) their theoretical efficiency limits. Plus, if you position a solar power satellite (SPS) properly over the equator, it will only reside in the Earth’s shadow for a few hours every year and thereby provide nearly non-stop energy. coque iphone 8 The idea of space-based solar power (SBSP) was formalized in the seminal 1968 report, Power from the Sun: Its Future, by American aerospace engineer Peter Glaser. The paper set forth a conceptual system for collecting unhampered solar energy from massive extra-atmospheric arrays of photovoltaic cells set in geosynchronous orbit above the equator, and transmitting it wirelessly back to Earth where it would be used by terrestrial power grids. In theory, with enough orbiting “solar farms,” the energy needs of not just the U.S. coque iphone pas cher but the entire world could be met. In his paper, Glaser argued that while building, launching, and operating such a power plant was currently beyond the reach of scientific knowledge at the time, those technological advances would be within our grasp in the coming years and decades. So, are we any closer to freeing the entire world from its energy woes with orbiting solar farms than we were at the start of the Space Age? Sure, but we’ve still got some work to do before that actually happens. coque iphone en ligne Specifically, there are a number aspects that we need to iron out before something like this actually comes to fruition. Launch It – What It Will Take to Farm Sunlight from SpaceExpand The first issue is the fact that a commercial-grade SPS would be simply gargantuan. In order to produce a GW of power, you’d need a massive collection area 0.5 kilometers long by 5.2 kilometers wide and weighing tens of thousands of tons. No matter how tightly you fold it up, there’s simply no way to get a fully formed SPS from the surface of the Earth into orbit given our current launch capabilities that wouldn’t be cost-prohibitive. So, for example, let’s assume that a standard solar panel weighs about 20 kg per kw. Not including the necessary support and transmission components, a 4 GW capacity would weigh a whopping 80,000 tons. It would require nearly 9,000 Atlas V rockets (each with a max lifting ability of 8,900 kg to GEO) to free that structure from Earth’s gravitational grip, or at least 9,000 trips to geosynchronous orbit and back, and cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $320 billion. That’s just to get the solar panels into position, not to assemble them or operate them—just to get them up there. Nor is that accounting for the environmental impact of all those rocket launches. However, while reusable space launch systems like Space X’s Dragon Capsule can only lift a fraction of what an Atlas V can, their low-cost nature could provide significant cost savings and drastically shortened turnaround times should the project be attempted today. Similarly, since we’re not rushing to beat another nation to the punch (something of this scale would demand the financial and technological assistance of every nation on Earth), slower but more cost efficient delivery methods like ion propulsion could also be deployed to shuttle materials from Low Earth Orbit up to Geosynchronous Earth Orbit. Essentially, LEO would become a staging area where materials would be tugged up to GEO by a fleet of as-of-yet-uninvented space transport vehicles. A secondary option proposed by American physicist Gerard O’Neill in the 1970s would have avoided the high cost of launching materials from Earth by instead constructing the SPS from materials mined on the Moon. This would have offered significant launch cost savings given the Moon’s far lower gravity, but would have required NASA to invent and deploy mass drivers (electromagnetic rail guns designed to throw packages into space) on the Moon’s surface. Though this seems like it would cost a hell of a lot more than just using rockets, a 1979 report by General Dynamics’ Convair Division estimated that using lunar resources would be cost effective should we build out 30 or so 10GW SPS’s—for a total capacity of 300 GW, or enough to satisfy projected U.S. electricity demand in the 2000-2030 period. Build It – What It Will Take to Farm Sunlight from SpaceExpand So even if we manage to get these tens of thousands of tons of stuff into orbit, the next issue would be putting it all together. This of course comes with its own set of challenges. coque iphone pas cher The structure, for example, wouldn’t need to support itself against gravity or the elements as terrestrial-based power plants do, but would have to defend against micrometeors and solar flares. There’s also the matter of who would build it. When NASA took a look at the issue in the late 1970s, it estimated necessary construction time at around 30 years. Three decades of build time. We can barely keep highly-trained astronauts out there on the ISS for more than a year, and a project like this would require either a veritable army of orbital workers (we’re talking a New Deal-scale workforce) continually shuttled back and forth to the surface, or we’d need an army of robots to do the same. NASA’s 1970s solution was to use a fleet of “beam builder” robots to roll and assemble sheets of aluminum into trusses tens of kilometers long. This method would reduce the necessary workforce of humans to a supervisory skeleton crew, which in turn would minimize training, operating, and liability costs. However, even with generous estimates of mechanization capabilities at the time, NASA estimated it would need at least 1,000 full-time astronauts on hand at any given moment—again, that’s just counting astronauts, not the additional doctors, cooks, cleaners, and other service workers they’d require to live in orbit, or the massive amount of resources (air, water, and food) that they’d consume. NASA estimated that the number of support workers would outnumber the builders by a factor of 10 to 1. And though this would be a massively expensive undertaking, it would also open up a huge new industry for anyone brave enough to work and live 22,000 miles up. Maintain It Not to put the cart before the horse, but assuming we do somehow manage to construct an SPS, keeping it from falling out of the sky could be tricky. The ISS for example, the largest orbiting man-made satellite in existence, uses regularly refilled gas propulsion to keep its orbit from fatally degrading. But given the monstrous size of these power plants, we’d have to devise a new, more efficient means of keeping them aloft. Solar light sails have been suggested as one solution, propped up either by the suns rays or by ground-based laser and radio energy. This energy would essentially counteract the planet’s gravitational pull and push the SPS just hard enough to keep it from falling back to Earth. But we’re still years away from such technology being readily available. Another solution, which is a bit closer to reality, is to convert solar-generated, DC power into microwaves and beam that energy up to the satellite to provide operational power. Researchers have been playing with this technology since the 1980s, and JAXA (Japan’s space agency) recently announced that a proposed small-scale SPS might use this method when it comes online in 2040. Get It Back By far, the biggest stumbling block for SPS technology involves getting it from space to your wall socket—it’s not like we can just run a huge extension cord up there. Instead, we’ll have to rely on a neophyte power transmission technology known as “wireless power transmission” (WPT). WPT converts DC current to microwave frequency and shoots it to a distant receiver where it is converted back to electricity and added to the power grid—essentially the reverse of what we’d use to keep the SPS aloft, as described above. This technology is far closer to science than fiction. It was first demonstrated in 1964 when American electrical engineer William C Brown demonstrated a microwave beam-powered helicopter for Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News. soldes coque iphone Subsequent developments by Raytheon in the 1970s saw microwaves transmit 30kW of energy over the course of a mile with 84 percent efficiency. And while a 5 GW beam would require massive arrays of receiver dishes spread over large uninhabited areas of the planet, the UN’s non-profit SunSat Energy Council has stated that this type of beam would be of such low density that it wouldn’t be capable of harming plant and animal life. You wouldn’t get a kitten in a microwave effect if you walked through this beam—in fact, it would reportedly warm your skin less than the Sun’s natural rays would. While WPT technology is certainly possible, there are a number of necessary factors to make it plausible. Factors like how you would generate the microwave signal in the first place. In the 1970s, when NASA first looked at the issue, the state of the art still used vacuum tubes. Today, semiconductor amplifiers offer superior efficiencies at a lower price point, but at the 1 GW scale, an SPS would need somewhere around the order of 100 million such devices to create a powerful-enough signal. There’s also the matter of the specific frequency the beam will take, lest it interfere with existing technologies. Somewhere in the 1 – 10 GHz range (around 5.8 GHz) is most likely, given the need to balance between antenna size and atmospheric penetration capabilities as well as accounting for existing band usage. Then there’s the issue of aiming the damn thing to hit a receiver dish 36,000 km away. You wouldn’t be able to do it with a single antenna. An SPS would require a massive number of smaller coordinated and synchronized antennae (up to a billion per satellite by some estimates) each precisely aimed at a 3km wide rectifying antenna on the ground, and aimed with an accuracy of just 10 µrad (and an efficiency of about 85 percent). That’s an unprecedented level of accuracy—not even the beam line tolerances at CERN are that tight. For all intents and purposes, it’s beyond our capabilities at this time. Where to Go from Here While this may seem like just as much of a Herculean task as it was in the 1970s, SBSP could well become a viable energy source within our lifetimes. Japan has already announced plans to build its own SPS within the next 25 years. Given both the rapid development of renewable energy over the past decade and the shift from public to private spaceflight—not to mention the growing need for more and cleaner power—the stars could soon align in favor of this ambitious project.
This post originally ran on Juan Cole’s Web page. Burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and oil) is putting 32 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually into the atmosphere. coque iphone xr Since CO2 is a greenhouse gas that traps heat from the sun on earth and prevents it radiating back out to space, this unprecedented human output is causing climate disruption, a process that will accelerate over the next few decades and will prove extremely costly to human society (if the latter can even survive). The only energy source that has a hope of fixing this problem and of resolving the coming energy crisis is solar. The cost of solar panels is falling rapidly, raising the hope that we can put in enough panels quickly enough to avoid the very worst scenario of carbon-induced climate disruption. (I put in 16 Enphase microinverter panels at my place this winter and they generated 120 kilowatt hours in the past week; my house and electric car averaged 150 kilowatt hours usage per week last month; and that is in Michigan at the tail end of winter). coqueiphone Join NationofChange today by making a generous tax-deductible contribution and take a stand against the status quo. Here are some promising signs with regard to solar power that have recently been in the news: 1. coque iphone 2019 Cheaper solar panels and more efficient wind turbines now produce so much energy that they pay for themselves quickly even if you add the cost of storage into the mix, and they also pay for the cost of adding more wind and solar. The Scientific American writes that Charles Banhart, a post-doc at Stanford’s Global Clmate and Energy Project, told them: “What we’re saying is that theoretically, it is now theoretically possible to have this perfect world that’s just based on wind and solar.” It adds, “Rather than using existing “stock” fuels like fossil fuels, he said, renewables put out enough excess energy to fuel their own expansion.” 2. coque iphone The price of electricity generated by solar panels in India has fallen so much that solar is now competitive with coal. India wants to add 22 gigawatts of solar by 2022, but is already looking like it will do at least 3 times that because of falling costs. In twenty years, India will be the country generating the most new demand for electricity in the world, surpassing China. 3. Ghana has started work on a $400 million, 155 megawatt solar utility plant, the largest so far in Africa and the 6th largest in the world. It will be completed in 2015. 4. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe introduced a feed-in tariff 18 months ago, with dramatic results. Installed solar capacity in the past year and a half has gone from about 2 and a half gigawatts to a whopping 7.5 GW. In an encouraging sign for the Japanese economy, nearly half the photovoltaic panels shipped were manufactured in Japan. Since the tsunami disaster at the Daichi Fukushima nuclear complex, Japan has scrambled to replace the electricity generating capacity of its nuclear reactors. acheter coque iphone A majority of days in the year are sunny in Japan, but the solar panels generate at least some electricity even when it is overcast. soldes coque iphone pas cher The number of sunny days each year in Japan is comparable to that in Germany, where solar now accounts for 5 percent of German electricity production, a proportion expected to increase rapidly over the next decade. coque iphone 5. American hip-hop artist Akon (who grew up in Senegal) is promoting affordable solar energy kits for African villagers that are cheaper than kerosene. He aims to bring power to a million Africans this year.
The collective’s New Year is an ideal time to discuss the Solar Return, or one’s personal New Year; the day the Sun returns to the original degree and minute of one’s birth. It can be the day before one’s birthday, the day of, or the day after. This is your true personal New Year. Liz Greene, Jungian Psychologist and Astrologer, refers to the Solar Return as a powerful energy impulse into our personal chart, “Today is the day of new beginnings, and the influences will be in effect for the entire year to come.” It is said that 88% if all New Year’s resolutions fail. From my perspective it is due to the fact that on this day, there is no particular individual solar support that impacts one’s particular chart (unless you are born January1). With that in mind, the most effective time to set intentions or make resolutions, would be on your birthday, the day of your Solar Return, your true New Year, when you have energetic assistance helping you co create your year ahead. So, every year, on or near your birthday, you experience a Solar Return, which activates a chart that holds influence for a year. Keep in mind, your SR chart will change by where you are geographically at that time; just as two people born at the same day and time, yet in different places, will have entirely different charts. I view the SR chart as a thread in your astrological tapestry. The foundational thread is the chart you were born with, which represents your patterns, talents, potentials. As time goes on the threads of the transits, progressions, eclipses, and planetary returns, are woven into your fabric. So although the SR is weighty, it is a part of the whole. While the influence of the SR is pivotal, one must be mindful of an attitude of reductionism, which is, isolating the power of the SR, and not honoring the entire astrological terrain. My position is one of inclusivity, that is, all astrological dynamics are factors in what unfolds in your year. Consider the image of a scale as our astrological terrain. Imagine the scale tipping to one side in challenging cycles. The SR can be a tool in bringing the scale back to balance, or even tip it to the positive side, giving welcomed support through these challenges. By traveling to a destination that is supportive astrologically for your SR birthday New Year, you utilize a tool that can contribute to a helpful influence for the year. Whether or not one stays home or takes a SR trip, the most successful Solar Returns are the ones where one is an active participant with the energy of the chart. It is said that there is relationship between inner and outer, what is “in here is out there”, in other words, within us we create our outer world. The SR is more than a symbol of planets arranged in certain order. To realize the potential of a SR, the goal should be work with its possibilities, and throughout the year consistently attune to the energy and give attention to the opportunity reflected by the chart of the Solar Return; in doing so work toward, realize, and create the goal in your outer world. Consider the Solar Return a planetary MAP that when one participates, takes the road created, increases the power of the return. soldes coque iphone Solar Return trips are not for magical thinkers or those looking for an easy way to reach a certain end. coque iphone pas cher For instance, no Solar Return will improve one’s health if one doesn’t follow through with good health habits. coque iphone en ligne No Solar Return will offset one’s negative patterns and self defeating ways which operate to hold one back. No Solar Return will function against the themes in the natal chart. coque iphone xs max For instance, if a natal chart does not hold the promise of fame, no Solar Return will be able to deliver that. Those of us who do SR will still experience the challenges of life. In my regular sessions, based on where you tell me you were at that time, I will comment on your SR, along with other astrological factors, as a part of your session. coque iphone Additionally, I have clients who ask me to find a birthday SR destination ahead of time, which creates a supportive SR chart for the upcoming year. (This is separate from regular sessions.) If one cannot travel for ones SR, one should always be mindful of the time of your Solar Return. coque iphone 2019 pas cher In my Yearly Forecast Sessions, whether or not you ask me to find a Solar Return destination for you, I will always give you your Solar Return day and time for the place you plan to be. This time is wisely used in the same rituals that are regularly performed at the collective New Year, that is, meditation, journaling, goal setting, and visualizing what you desire to accomplish.
Climate Engineering No Longer Pie in the Sky
Scientists backed by the government and Bill Gates are studying schemes such as sunlight-blocking particles
This rendering [to the right] shows a cloud-brightening scheme by scientist John Latham in which a ship sprays salt particles into the air to reflect sunlight and slow global warming. (John MacNeil)
WASHINGTON — As international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions stall, schemes to slow global warming using fantastical technologies once dismissed as a sideshow are getting serious consideration in Washington.
Ships that spew salt into the air to block sunlight. Mirrored satellites designed to bounce solar rays back into space. Massive “reverse” power plants that would suck carbon from the atmosphere. These are among the ideas the National Academy of Sciences has charged a panel of some of the nation’s top climate thinkers to investigate. Several agencies requested the inquiry, including the CIA. At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, scientists are modeling what such technologies might do to weather patterns. At the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., a fund created by Microsoft founder Bill Gates — an enthusiast of research into climate engineering — helps bankroll another such effort. “There is a level of seriousness about these strategies that didn’t exist a decade ago, when it was considered just a game,” said Ken Caldeira, a scientist with the Carnegie Institution at Stanford University, who sits on the National Academy of Sciences panel. “Attitudes have changed dramatically.”
Even as the research moves forward, many scientists and government officials worry about the risks of massive climate-control contraptions. Some fear the potential for error in tampering with the world’s thermostat. Get it wrong, they say, and the consequences could be disastrous. Many also say the public could develop a false hope that geo-engineering schemes alone could halt climate change. That, they worry, would undermine already tenuous support for efforts to seriously reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to warming the climate. Even so, once-skeptical federal officials and scientists at major research institutions including Stanford, Harvard and Caltech have decided that ignoring these largely untested technologies also poses dangers. “There has been so little movement globally and, particularly, nationally toward mitigation of climate change that we’re in a situation where we need to know what the prospects are for this,” said Marcia McNutt, a former director of the U.S. Geological Survey, who is chairwoman of the National Academy of Sciences panel. “Whether we wind up using these technologies, or someone else does and we suddenly find ourselves in a geo-engineered world, we have to better understand the impacts and the consequences,” she said.
Agencies are struggling to analyze the possibilities of weather control and how it might be policed. In November, the Congressional Research Service advised lawmakers to pay attention to the issue, saying “these new technologies may become available to foreign governments and entities in the private sector to use unilaterally — without authorization from the United States government or an international treaty.” That already happened to a limited extent in mid-2012 when a California businessman, Russ George, dumped 200,000 pounds of iron-rich dust off the coast of British Columbia, Canada, in an effort — many say publicity stunt — aimed at spurring a massive plankton bloom. The theory of ocean fertilization holds that more plankton would increase the ocean’s capacity to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. George’s test did appear to cause more plankton to bloom, but it is unclear whether it had any effect on carbon dioxide levels in the air.
That same year, British scientists canceled plans to test the effect that spraying liquids at high altitude would have on sunlight. The proposed small-scale test involved launching a balloon high above the sea and spraying what would have amounted to a couple of bathtubs of water into the atmosphere. In theory, that would mimic the cooling effect that occurs when ash from a volcanic eruption blocks sunlight. The experiment was grounded amid a heated dispute, which continues today, over whether field tests should be taking place at all in the absence of international rules guiding how to go about them. Some prominent climate experts have argued that the technology the British scientists were testing, were it ever to be used on a large scale, could exacerbate extreme drought and flooding in parts of the world. “We need to consider whether we have the right legal architecture in place to make sure bad things don’t happen,” said Harvard law professor Jody Freeman, a former White House counselor for energy and climate change. “It is important we have some control and society is engaged in the risks.”
The technologies being proposed are numerous, and often odd.
“I have seen all kinds of proposals,” said James Fleming, author of “Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control” and a member of the National Academy geo-engineering committee. “There is a crazy new one in my email every week,” he said. “There are a lot of Rube Goldbergs out there, and some Dr. Strangeloves.” Of the technologies being considered, those that would remove carbon tend to be less controversial. Riley Duren, chief systems engineer for Earth science and technology at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, estimates, for example, that counteracting today’s emissions would require about 30,000 of what he calls reverse power plants: enormous steel structures developed by a start-up in Calgary, Canada, that would use fans to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. The bids to redirect sunlight are much more economical and could be deployed more quickly. They also carry much more risk, the congressional research study warns. Proposals in that category include efforts at cloud whitening, in which planes or ships would shoot particles of sea salt into the sky, stimulating the formation of brighter clouds that would reflect sunlight. Other proposals would inject sulfates into the atmosphere to absorb heat, or bounce solar radiation back into space.
In addition to the danger of exacerbating drought, the congressional report warns, if such contraptions malfunctioned or were otherwise shut down, the climate could rapidly warm, “leaving little time for humans or nature to adapt.”
The authors echo the concerns of many scientists that small changes in climate over the history of Earth have been known to have severe consequences. Much of the momentum behind geo-engineering comes from an organization Gates created with Caldeira and Harvard professor David Keith. The two scientists have been getting $1.3 million annually from Gates to fund their research, as well as to distribute to other projects, such as the modeling being done at Pacific Northwest Laboratory, Caldeira said. They also hold cram sessions for the billionaire a few times each year on climate and energy issues, including geo-engineering. Caldeira and Keith hope the National Academy effort will open the way for government-sponsored field tests. But McNutt cautions that may not happen. John Latham won’t be staying idle waiting for the government to resolve that debate. A senior research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., Latham is confident that he and his partners have developed a viable contraption. Their cloud-brightening scheme would involve ships at sea unleashing a spray of salt particles. It would use nozzles designed by Armand Neukermans, a physicist who helped invent the inkjet printer while at Hewlett-Packard. As recently as last year, the group had little hope of securing enough money to test the contraption outside the lab, Latham said. But as the buzz around geo-engineering has intensified, some wealthy individuals have stepped forward with about $1 million needed for a small-scale trial. Latham anticipates that within two or three years he will be conducting a government-sanctioned field test over thousands of acres of ocean. “People are getting more and more desperate about climate change,” he said. “I think it is quite probable we will get the OK to do this.”