The Space Solar power track at the ISDC took place on Friday afternoon and Sunday morning with John Mankins receiving an award and making a Space Solar Power presentation on Saturday Night. The presentations made clear the situation that the Space Solar Power community is facing. Feng Hsu and Mike Snead showed that by the end of the century power demand will far exceed supply, as conventional sources dwindle and renewables can not expand to fill the gap. There was wide agreement that we have the technology to make Space Solar Power work. The only real issues were how best to make Space Solar Power work, at what price and in which markets.
It is clear to me that since the world will desperately need power within 90 years and Space Solar Power can provide it is simply a question of when and how Space Solar Power will become a reality not if. Since Space Solar power will become a reality we can alleviate a lot of suffering if we begin developing it now instead of waiting until power prices are soaring and black outs and brown outs are common.
Here are the issues-
Lasers or Microwaves for power transmission?
Ready for development or need some government funded research?
Commercial, Government or Public -Private Partnership development?
Placement of receivers?
The steps are clear. Seek government involvement to fund experimental research and technology demonstrations as well as working the policy issues like securing a frequency and orbital slots from the ITU and developing safety standards for receiving power. Private involvement to research markets, develop business plans and secure funding as well as develop technology.
Space Solar Power can provide clean baseload power to all. The only question is do start now and make its development and adoption, slow and painless or wait a couple more decades so the development of space solar power will be frantic and chaotic in the face of desperate circumstances?
Karen Cramer Shea