Space based solar power satellites could replace fossil fuels. This would require both lower cost and higher volume than SpaceX could deliver. The cost to GEO can’t go to over $200 per kilogram and the required traffic level is 15 million tons per year to LEO. (12 million to GEO.)
The main advantage of orbital space based solar is you get 5 times as much sun as the best deserts and 15 times for places like Japan and the UK.
Henson’s space based solar plans solve energy concerns without subsidies and make a lot of money. Low energy cost makes everyone better off.
Initial target cost is 3 cents per kWh to undercut coal, 2 cents or less to replace oil.
Henson uses a method of designing to cost. Design to cost is a management strategy and supporting methodologies to achieve an affordable product by treating target cost as an independent design parameter that needs to be achieved during the development of a product
Synthetic Oil from electricity. Hydrogen in a barrel of oil takes ~20 MWh. At two cents, $40 per bbl.
Capital $10 per bbl based on this plant below
How much can we spend on space based power satellites?
For low maintenance and zero fuel cost, the levelized Cost of Electricity is capital cost of 80,000
That is $2400 per kW for the target of three cents per kWh
$2400 per kW is split
$200 per kW for the rectenna,
$900 per kw for the power satellite parts.
That leaves $1300 per kw for transport.
At 6.5kg per kW, that’s $200 per kg about a 100 to 1 reduction over current cost to haul comm sats to GEO.
You cannot build in LEO and fly a power satellite out to GEO on it’s own power, there is too much space junk and takes too long. (Boeing, 1970s, hit 40 times)
Hensons plan is to use Skylon space planes for launching to LEO
Then use arcjets to boost to 2,000 kilometers (above almost all of the space junk)
Designs for these propulsion power satellites use concentrated PV and large radiators to get rid of the waste heat from the 40% efficient cells. Where clouds are rare, (like in space) CPV works better than regular PV
At 2000 km, the stack unfolds to make a propulsion power satellite.
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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