As a fan of Professor Neal deGrasse Tyson, I’m always on the lookout for ways in which space exploration can impact our earthbound endeavors. We are all aware of the continued influence the NASA space program has had on technological innovation in the US and worldwide, and now you can add extraterrestrial energy to the mix.
According to an online report by Leonard David, some day a significant portion of our power could be generated by solar powered satellites. The SPS-ALPHA project (that’s short for Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array) debuted during the 2012 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts meeting last month after being previously selected for a NASA NIAC award last August.
David outlines the basics of the project as “the construction of huge platforms from tens of thousands of small elements that can deliver remotely and affordably tens to thousands of megawatts using wireless power transmission to markets on Earth, as well as missions in space. The Earth-pointing side of this large modular circular array is tiled with a collection of microwave-power transmission panels that generate the coherent, low-intensity beam of radio frequency energy and transmits that energy to Earth.”
Although the idea of “power-beaming solar-power satellites” is not entirely new, the SPS-ALPHA does have some advantages over past project, including significantly lower costs. For example, without the need for a large integrated power management and distribution system, the projected price of the platform is significantly less expensive. Additionally, the ability to assemble individual system elements that weigh no more than 110 to 440 pounds (50 to 200 kilograms), allowing all pieces to be mass-produced, will also dramatically lower implementation expenditures.
So, what do you think? Could space prove to be a viable energy frontier? Should we be funnel more R&D funds to projects similar to this one? And even if this project is never implemented, shouldn’t we be aspiring to let our reach exceed our grasp when it comes to energy policy and clean tech innovation?
Upcoming Forester University Webinars
April 12th, 2012
Water Auditing 101
Reduce your water waste and cost! Join Troy Aichele, LEED AP (O+M) of Aichele and Associates LLC to explore the key attributes, uses, and efficiency/cost opportunities of water audits. Aichele will lead a discussion of what a water audit includes, who performs the audit, where and when they should and can be performed, and the opportunities that exist in performing a water audit. Join us and gain an understanding of the potential savings possible, rebates available, and how quickly this unobtrusive work can be implemented from audit to installation to optimize your water use and minimize your cost. Read more...
April 18th, - May 25th, 2012
Sediment and Erosion Control
Master Class Series
Join industry expert and bestselling author Jerald S. Fifield, Ph.D., CISEC, CPESC and Tina R. Evans, PE, CISEC for a comprehensive 6-part online master class and workshop series (0.9 CEUs / 9 PDHs) exploring the ins and outs of effective sediment and erosion control plan design and review based on Fifield’s recently released 3rd edition of the bestselling manual Designing and Reviewing Effective Sediment and Erosion Control Plans (included in your Master Class Series package).
April 26 th, 2012
BMP Nutrient Sources and Transformations -
How to Optimize Nutrient Removal in SCMs
Are your Stormwater Control Measures (SCMs) effectively removing nitrogen and phosphorus from runoff? Join Bill Lucas to explore how to select and design SCMs to improve nitrogen and phosphorus retention. After an overview of nitrogen and phosphorous forms, sources, and transformations, Lucas will discuss how nitrogen and phosphorus transformations can be optimized in SCMs; how to select and design SCMs for settings; and how to tailor these programs to meet TMDL requirements more cost effectively.