So there are plans proposed by Al Globus to achieve results with a few hundred million. There is already a megawatt(s) or so of space solar power for satellites in space. 200 kw or so on the space station.
Japan is willing to spend a few billion on it. Planning 2 megawatt demo around 2020. 200 MW around 2025. Trying to get 1GW in 2030s.
Al Globus is working out ways to get 6-30 MWe in one launch for about $20-100 million or so.
How does this compare with nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion has had decades of funding around the billion dollar per year level (all nations added up). No commercial power generation yet.
I support nuclear fusion research and space based solar power research.
Energy infrastructure is a multi-trillion per year effort.
It is wrong to try to disqualify space based solar power because an incorrect first order analysis determines it is 4 times more expensive. The same reasoning would be that we should not have ground based solar because it is still over 4 times more expensive than coal and nuclear power.
Get space based solar for expanded space based efforts and for on the ground niches and let it grow. Hopefully to the 500 MW level to potentially reduce costs of space launch per the Henson plan and other applications.
Countries that did not fund developments of the Americas several hundred years ago missed out and were weaker than those that did.
The main energy growth worldwide for the next ten years or so will still be coal and natural gas.
Most construction of nuclear energy and all energy will be in China. China passed US energy usage in 2010 and is growing at 6-8%. While the US and Europe don’t grow energy most years or add 1%.
I like the advanced energy uprates (annular fuel). South Korea is working on it for implementation in their existing reactors. There is a US company Lightbridge working on it to. Conventional uprates and advanced uprates can affordably add 20-50% more power to existing reactors.
Solar and Wind have had the German and other feed in tariff support but those are going down with the economic problems. The supply chain and power grid buildup needed should not be underestimated.
China, South Korea and Russia are the main buying and building advanced nuclear reactors. So their modular reactors are the ones that are likely to be built.
Japan has good tech and engineering and science and is willing to try for the energy hail mary. Uranium from seawater, space based solar etc…
There is also the possibilities around LENR and cold fusion and other black swans.
For space based solar, modular nuclear, cold fusion and other new energy technology the key is to find the niche region, application to get a first profitable project and then build as rapidly as possible from there.
Certain countries will find it in there interests to subsidize and support new efforts. Germany and other countries funded the buildup of regular solar and wind to many billions of dollars. Billions went into conventional nuclear fusion.
Future energy is a long multi-decade and multi-century activity with many trillions at stake every year. There are a lot of things to try and more creative ways to make older ideas work.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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