Some Documented Mine Waste and Hydroelectric Dam Disasters

People frequently talk about the dangers of nuclear power. The three big and famous nuclear plant accidents have caused less than 100 direct deaths in total. These deaths are bad but this is still much safer than any other energy based on deaths per terawatt hour. Fossil fuel energy shortens everyones lifespan because burned fuel creates particulates that increase cancer and other diseases. The billions of tons of coal China burns every year decreases lifespan in China by about 3-4 years. People freak about nuclear waste that is all contained and stored. Yes, nuclear waste would be dangerous if you were right beside it and it was out of its container, but they never are. The fossil fuel waste is in your air and thus in your lungs. The waste in the water lasts forever. Mercury has no halflife. It is why you are told not to eat too much tuna. Here we will go over the nuclear accidents and some major hydroelectric dam accidents and some coal and metal mining water waste tailing dam accidents.

The Three-mile island nuclear plant accident in 1979 led to no deaths or injuries. The nuclear plant was lost for $1 billion in damage.

The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster caused 50-100 direct deaths. The reactor explosion killed two of the reactor operating staff. A massive emergency operation to put out the fire, stabilize the reactor, and clean up the ejected nuclear core began. In the disaster and immediate response, 134 station staff and firemen were hospitalized with acute radiation syndrome due to absorbing high doses of ionizing radiation. Of these 134 people, 28 died in the days to months afterward and approximately 14 suspected radiation-induced cancer deaths followed within the next 10 years. Among the wider population, an excess of 15 childhood thyroid cancer deaths were documented as of 2011. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has, at multiple times, reviewed all the published research on the incident and found that at present, fewer than 100 documented deaths are likely to be attributable to increased exposure to radiation.

Higher estimates of expected eventual deaths are based upon a linear no-threshold model. This model indicates that ANY increased exposure to radiation causes increased cancer and death. If this model were true then commercial aviation pilots and staff would show far higher rates of cancer and death but they do not. This model also predicts more cancer and deaths for higher altitude cities like Colorado, which again is not the case. It is clear that the linear no-threshhold model of radiation risk is bunch of crap.

It should be noted that Chernobyl was a terrible nuclear reactor design created by the Soviet Union.

Soviet engineers were also involved in making the Banqiao dam. This was part of the worst hydroelectric dam failure in history.

In 1975, Banqiao and Shimantam Dam failures (171,000-240,000 deaths). Extreme rainfall, beyond the planned design capability of the dam, dumped on China by Typhoon Nina. 11 million people lost their homes. Dam would later be rebuilt between 1986 and 1993.

The dam was originally created in 1952. The project was signed off by Mao. It was a politically motivated dam. China at the time did not have dam building experience. The dam was originally made of clay. Soviet engineers were brought in to help. The dam was reinforced. However, it was built in a bad geological location and did not have enough runoff gates.

On August 8, at 01:00, water at the Banqiao crested at the 117.94 m level above sea level, or 0.3 meter higher than the wave protection wall on the dam. It failed. The same storm caused the failure of 62 dams in total. The runoff of Banqiao Dam was 13,000 m3 per second in vs. 78,800 m3 per second out, and as a result 701 million m3 of water was released in 6 hours, while 1.67 billion m3 of water was released in 5.5 hours at an upriver Shimantan Dam, and 15.738 billion m3 of water was released in total.

The resulting flood waters caused a wave 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) wide and 3–7 meters (9.8–23.0 ft) high in Suiping (遂平) that rushed onto the plains below at nearly 50 kilometers per hour (31 mph), almost wiping out an area 55 kilometers (34 mi) long and 15 kilometers (9.3 mi) wide, and creating temporary lakes as large as 12,000 square kilometers (4,600 sq mi). Seven county seats, Suiping, Xiping (西平), Ru’nan (汝南), Pingyu (平舆), Xincai (新蔡), Luohe (漯河), and Linquan (临泉) were inundated, as were thousands of square kilometers of countryside and countless communities. Evacuation orders had not been fully delivered due to weather conditions and poor communications. Telegraphs failed, signal flares fired by Unit 34450 were misunderstood, telephones were rare, and some messengers were caught by the flood.

To protect other dams from failure, several flood diversion areas were evacuated and inundated, and several dams were deliberately destroyed by air strikes to release water in desired directions. The Nihewa and Laowangpo flood diversion areas downstream of the dams soon exceeded their capacity and gave up part of their storage on August 8, forcing more flood diversion areas to begin to evacuate.

In 2011, the 2011 Tohoku tsunami washed away the above-ground diesel fuel tanks which prevented systems and cooling from controlling the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. This caused one radiation death in 2018. A worker at the Fukushima nuclear power plant died after suffering radiation exposure. The man, who was in his 50s, died from lung cancer that was diagnosed in 2016.

In 2011, the Fujinuma dam failed after 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. 7 dead and 1 unknown. Japanese authorities state that the dam failure was caused by the earthquake, making these the first earthquake-caused dam failure fatalities since 1930, worldwide. Nearby dams damaged by same earthquake.

1979, Machchu-2 Dam failure in India killed 5000. The actual observed flow following the intense rainfall reached 16307 m³/s, thrice what the dam was designed for, resulting in its collapse. The 762 meters (2,500 ft) of left and 365 metres (1,198 ft) of right embankment of dam were collapsed. Within 20 minutes the floods of 12 to 30 ft (3.7 to 9.1 m) height inundated the low-lying areas of Morbi industrial town located 5 km below the dam.

1962, Residents of the valley of Vajont in Italy had reservations about a new hydroelectric dam–especially when cracks began to appear in the nearby mountain. A landslide with 20 billion tons of rock hit the reservoir which caused a tsunami flood and destroyed a town and 2000 people were killed. Strictly not a dam failure, since the dam structure did not collapse and is still standing. Filling the reservoir caused geological failure in valley wall, leading to 110 km/h landslide into the lake; water escaped in a wave over the top of dam. Valley had been incorrectly assessed as stable. Several villages completely wiped out.

The Val di Stava Dam collapse occurred on 19 July 1985, when two tailings dams (dams holding mining waste – usually coal mining) above the village of Stava, near Tesero, Italy, failed. It resulted in one of Italy’s worst disasters, killing 268 people, destroying 63 buildings and demolishing eight bridges.

The Kyzyl-Agash Dam failure occurred in a dam located outside the village of Kyzyl-Agash, Almaty Province, Kazakhstan. On 11 March 2010, the dam burst, flooding the village. At least 43 people were killed, 211 people were injured, and over 1000 evacuated from the village. Opposition sources report a much higher figure for the death toll. An opposition newspaper Svoboda Slova reports that at least 200 have died, mostly children and old people, but an exact, official count is prohibited by the administration

In 2019, a Brazilian mine tailings dam suffered a catastrophic failure releasing 12 million cubic meters of tailings slurry. There are nearly 800 mining dams in Brazil. They are supposed to be inspected every year. 3% were inspected by 35 inspectors in 2019. This dam failure killed 270 people and destroyed a village. In 2015, a Mariana tailings dam collapsed. This was also in Brazil. One village destroyed, 600 people evacuated. 60 million cubic meters of iron waste slurry polluted Doce River, and the sea near the river’s mouth. 17 people killed in Mariana.

39 thoughts on “Some Documented Mine Waste and Hydroelectric Dam Disasters”

  1. 35 m diameter you could drive a ship. Or a very big aircraft… better make that an airship to get the surface area to power requirements high enough.

    Not close to justified at this point because both ships and aircraft get to purchase their fuel at the big central, low cost wholesale locations. Well… except for military applications where you are restricted in where and when you can just pop in to refuel. But in those applications you want more power, less area, and do NOT want satellites being able to track you.

    Still, something to keep on the shelf just in case hydrocarbon fuels DO somehow become unusable.

  2. Failure of a dam used for irrigation can lead to famine. Failure of dams can make canals unusable causing transportation failure. If you lose a dam, you lose the hydroelectric generation, but also the generation of thermal plants using the lake as a heat sink.

  3. The Chernobyl incident was government management, likely because managers were not promoted based on performance, or competence, but by politics. It's sort of like diversity hires these days.
    There were all sorts of deaths in the soviet union because of government, for instance the starvation of farmers because the soviets stole all their food after the harvest. After they were dead, it was easy to collectivize the unowned land, and after all that is what mattered

  4. It's actually easy to make modern reinforced concrete last much longer. The steel must be replaced. Basalt based fiber is used in China, does not corrode, is stronger by weight, and is more resistant to high temperatures than steel. It can be used as free fiber dispersed in the concrete, as reinforcing bars, or as tapes.

  5. People freak out by other polluting activities too, and the longer the pollution remains the more is dangerous and expensive to manage.

  6. Please see the plan! Criswell is not Mankins, who still seems to talk of single beams. Criswell has 20-200 TWe being distributed worldwide 24/7 to thousands of ~200 MWe rectennae. The 20% leads to the 1 KM dia for the rectennae, and thus the remaining dimensions. edit: and be sure to see ppg 12-13 for the right now emergency Earth to Earth power beaming, altho using excess wind and solar in addition to unmoved molly queues.

  7. Wyoming, LOL. 

    Got relatives and friends there. Right friendly bunch, well armed, kids draw flags on 4-July, and teachers tape them to windows in the perky-but-nearly-empty classrooms.  (Most everyone young has left, and even the stalwarts aren't bearing many lil scooters.)

    You CAN expect cookouts of 'hand harvested' elk, back-yard raised acorn squash and plenty of uncle Ben's corn squeezings. Ahem. Errr… And if you get your stupid-looking city car stuck in a puddle, there'll be 20 good old boys helping you outa the mud in a jiffy. At least two will want to celebrate either with an ad-hoc shotgun salute, or cracking a case of beer, just for good luck, God and Country. Or both. Definitely both.

    I actually think this 'thing' works when the goals are modest, and the fear of safety-gone-awry is largely suppressed. 10 kW/m² is just fine. Barbed wire fencing, lots o Keep Out skulls-and-crossbones signage, self-recharging drones (yah!) for lookouts, ought to keep idiots from getting incinerated. CAn't help the birds. Oh well. At least 'spot sizes' get small enough for the military to consider them useful.  

    35 m (diameter receiver) delivers 10,000+ kW, after conversion.  Equivalent to 1,000 gal/hr of diesel at 27% thermal efficiency. 100 Ghz, 100 m transmitter in space, 600 km altitude. 100 could deliver 10 MW power to almost any place on earth (almost-polar orbit) continuously.

    More than likely exceeding actual demand. 

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  8. I do wonder. 

    If 20% of 1 Sol (i.e. 200 W/m²) is allowable, and you want to receive that 10,000 GW at 'a spot' somewhere, you would need 10,000,000,000,000 ÷ 200 = 50,000,000,000 m² … = 252,000 m diameter, or 250 km, or 150 miles diameter. 

    That, good sir, is gargantuan. Far more gargantuan than can reasonably be countenanced, actually.  You are right in proposing that the wavelength is beneficially impacted by this… The equation [T = B⋅2λ/R] comes into play, with B = 35,000,000, R = 252,000, T being modest, say 1,000 m, then λ = 3.6 m or 85 MHz (0.085 GHz).

    Well, that's pretty relaxed! 

    Off-the-shelf commodity silicon can do that at over 95% DC-to-λ efficiency, and synchronous rectification at the receiver can get the DC back at similar efficiencies. Almost steam-punk!

    However, having 12 million acres (5,000,000 ha) covered in car-sized dipoles is a bit preposterous. Not just really big, but totally ridiculous.  

    Just saying

  9. Detroit and Austin had (have a few) "Moon Towers" that were designed too mimic the full Moon brightness with high arc lights.
    "The moonlight towers in Austin, Texas, are the only known
    surviving moonlight towers in the world. They are 165 feet tall and have
    a 15-foot foundation. A single tower casts light from six carbon arc lamps, illuminating a 1,500-foot-radius circle brightly enough to read a watch. "

    Of course, the Moon is a SPS as far as the *sat* part goes. Structure, station keeping, stability, location . . .

  10. The moon is a solar power sat, in the sense that it sends solar power to the Earth. But only in the form of lighting.

    This actually used to be very significant. For one thing, lighting used to be a huge deal. I've seen numbers that maybe 5% of a middle class family budget in the 19th century might be lighting (candles, lamp oil). The reason that calendars and almanacs traditionally have phases of the moon in them is because this used to be a factor that you needed to know when planning night time, out doors activities such as long distance travel.

    These days, not so much.

  11. The optimistic story is that exactly this project, in the 10 MW scale, is currently in the sights of our good friends the US military, who have done so much to develop new tech over the centuries [1].

    In this case, to provide beamed power to remote military bases without the need to transport expensive diesel fuel [2] through undeveloped, mountainous war zones.

    Though now they don't have any bases in Afghanistan they might cancel the projects. Though they should keep going for the next time they invade some remote mountain hell-hole[3].

    [1] From GPS through microwave ovens and jet aeroplanes to chronometers. Well the chronometer was the British military, but back in those days it was the same organisation. They separated back in the 1770s for some dispute over funding.

    [2]Diesel fuel is pretty damn cheap if you order 5000 tonnes for delivery to a port in Texas. Once you've shipped it to Pakistan, unloaded the ship, trucked it to the Afghan border, then kept trucking but now with an armed escort to an Afghan base. Now transferred it to an armoured, off road vehicle, now sent that into the mountains with accompanying armoured cars and infantry guards, and finally unloaded into a remote base fuel tank, NOW it's expensive.

    [3]North Korea? Switzerland? Wyoming?

  12. I think, Dan, that you've got a wee bit of megalomania going on. The history of technology — regardless of what Era of history you wish to cite — is dominated by a single development-and-scaling 'formula'.  Start tiny and research the scaling optics. Go mid-sized, and work out the kinks. Scale to just below gargantuan, and watch it run for awhile. Then scale to the colossal.  International Space Stations, the whole Rocket-to-Moon program, any of the world's giant hydroelectric dams, the 100 year roll-out of commercial aircraft, the Internet itself, and computing hand-in-hand. All the same trajectory. 

    So, do space-based solar power not in baby steps, but in the usual Engineering Scaling steps.  Factor of 3× to 5× each scale jump. Doesn't take very many to get to 10,000 GWe.  (PS… apart from us techy types, almost no one really 'gets' the gigawatt-versus-terawatt comparison. This is why I like sticking to one unit until it becomes operationally obsolete.)

    I say, plant a very low Earth Orbit 10 megawatt plant up there. The first baby step. Big enough to require all sorts of details about the delivery, the in-space build, the pointing, the electrical collection and down-conversion to a tight millimeter wave beam; yet close enough not to require all the extra gas to get it to geosynchronous. Nor the extra-super-huge synthetic aperture rectantennae.  

    Then… 3× to 5× … … … … …

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  13. Uh, humm.. So, which of them has a Commercial License proposal registered with the government's regulatory apparatus? OK, so none. Easier: which has an approved (AKA "certified and vetted") plan, down to the engineering diagrams, alloy specifications, machining and 5 year operational objectives done? Hmmm… well, you might know. I think the answer is 'none so far, but they're working hard on it'.  

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  14. Sure if your town is made right next to dam then it will take minute or less to be flooded but generally floods affect much larger areas and even with speed approaching 10 feets per second it takes time to reach the rest.

    And yes some radioactivity can persist for millions or billions of years if there is appropriate source for it (remember that bananas are harmlessly radioactive) but question is does that apply for manmade nuclear reactors going kaput and does the level remains problematic with such long passage of time?

  15. Dams kill their victims within seconds/minutes from collapse. The Vajont disaster for example happened at the 22:39 del 9 October 1963 and the water took 2-4 minutes to reach the closest towns. You might or might not have regular flooding in areas where a dam was, that depends on the nature of the river, the landscape and so on. Many dams in mountain areas act as water reservoirs to guarantee a regular amount of water (and higher height gaps) for power plants. Again not all the dams collapse are linked to malaria because, again, malaria is not present in every region. On the other hand radioactivity is genotoxic, causes cancer and malformation and long lived radionuclides have half-lives of millions and billions of years, so yes, radiation can contaminate areas for millions of years. Furthermore radiation does not only cause direct deaths (as the ones due to cancers) but having a 10% shortening of your lifespan means dying at 72 instead of 80 or at 60 instead of 66, so yeah, maybe you did not die of cancer but the overall ageing induced by tissue damage still killed you faster,

  16. Failure of dam doesn't kill all its victim in seconds except in some low budget Hollywood movie. Failure of dam also renders regions uninhabitable by no longer being a barrier to regular flooding and such. Not to mention dams have been linked to adding to malarial deaths. Even when dams don't fail they can raise total mortality of malaria affected communities, as much as on order of million+. In other words undercounting impact is a problem with dams too.

    Furthermore, even the most outlandish long term estimates don't claim communities will be affected by radiation for millions of years. More people are likely to die from changes in solar radiation on such time scales but we won't freakout about that.

  17. Looks like earthen dams fail and concrete fails after 90 years. No mention of the Teton dam failing in the 70's. The Oroville dam in California is a 600+ foot tall earthen dam that has 8x the capacity of the destroyed Teton dam.
    Nuclear waste can be reprocessed and extract out the unused fuel with the waste being encapsulated in glass, its called vitrification. Neither will happen in the U.S by law. There is spent fuel in casks and pools at every nuclear plant waiting to be resolved and is the responsibility of the federal government.

  18. 30 trafic related USdeath per day for 1 year is a lesser problem compared to 1 plane falling from the sky and killing 200.
    It takes +550 channels for 2weeks to talk about.

  19. As it is the contamination due to the radiation. The fact that the failure of a dam causes deaths within seconds make it easier to count them. Direct radiation exposure works differently: it easy to report direct acute radiation deaths (that occur within hours/days from the exposure) but if your radiation contamination increases lethality in an area by 10% (or even only 1%) for the next million years it will be underreported in your statistics (because you do not have cumulative data for a million year). Furthermore if people know that an area is made uninhabitable by radiation they will stop living there or they will be prevented from living there, so you will end up not having as many deaths as initially expected, but it is not because radiation is not dangerous. Furthermore you still end up with billions of dollars in damages and regions uninhabitable for years and you almost certainly still influenced the region/nation demography.

  20. France doesn't decontaminate most of their nuclear waste. They do recycle some of their waste, and they also do it for other nation. But they still have a lot of nuclear waste. They do not have a solution for long time storage.

  21. Uhh… it's comparing what they are supposed to contain for safe application. Nuclear material in case of reactors and water in case of dams. Flood is the primary effect not secondary effect of a failed dam. The given deaths are from direct radiation exposure not reactor concrete falling on people.

  22. What about it? Wildlife is thriving there just fine with some human communities on the edges. There are tons of places rendered unsuitable for safe human settlement by other industries but we don't see people freak out over that.

    The estimates of thousands of years are also disputed with estimates ranging on the order of hundreds of years. Who knows what scientific advances we will make in that time to make living in Chernobyl safer before end of long estimates.

  23. what a dûmb comparison: if you consider only the direct deaths from the nuclear accident you should compare them with the deaths due to the collapse of the dam itself and not to the deaths due to the water. Obviously nobody does because in both cases the issues are due to the secondary effects of the failures

  24. According to an April 2006 report by the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear Warfare (IPPNW), entitled "Health Effects of Chernobyl – 20 years after the reactor catastrophe",[106] more than 10,000 people are today affected by thyroid cancer and 50,000 cases are expected. In Europe, the IPPNW claims that 10,000 deformities have been observed in newborns because of Chernobyl's radioactive discharge, with 5,000 deaths among newborn children. They also state that several hundreds of thousands of the people who worked on the site after the disaster are now sick because of radiation, and tens of thousands are dead.[105]
    Revisiting the issue for the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the Union of Concerned Scientists described the Forum's estimate of four thousand as pertaining only to "a much smaller subgroup of people who experienced the greatest exposure to released radiation". Their estimates for the broader population are 50,000 excess cancer cases resulting in 25,000 excess cancer death.

    Nuclear still has its risks, don't downplay it to bare minimum.

  25. It gets even better for nuclear power when you consider that none of the current nuclear power plants are designed like the 3 disastrous ones mentioned above. Also, France has gotten most of their electricity from nuclear power for decades, and managed to decontaminate most of their nuclear waste during that period too. We don't do it here because it's not required. It should be, OR better yet, that waste should be consumed as part of a new breed of thorium reactors. Incentives to use up waste would do wonders for the cost-benefit model in favor of much safer thorium reactors.
    Just today, local power company Con Edison is again warning of a possible brownout or even local blackouts, something that seems to have gotten worse with the shutdown of Indian Point last spring. How many people die from lack of electricity during heat waves?

  26. Yes less deaths from nuclear disasters but what about the contaminated land like Chernobyl after 35 years, humans are unable to live in for at least 4000 to 20,000 years. Cannot compare suh things with such simplistic view.

  27. So, how hot are these spots? Criswell sez 20% solar, *but* could still be economical at 2%. If you go beyond 20%, you are a "morbidity emanation" and will never hear the end of it. If you work backwards, I think that this limit makes everything else pretty easy, as you are not allowed to be too small. Whatever the GEO plan, the size of the radars will eventually become driven by the allowed beam intensity, not the focus needs. Indeed, the higher the frequency, the sooner this will happen(?). At that point, you can move further out and get the focus for free. Far fewer problems, esp on existing Moon.

    And, for starters, build some more traditional small radars on the Moon to drive lunar to lunar power beaming, later blending them in to the distributed radar of LSP.
    These guys know more about it than I.

  28. Nice article, Brian. Any thing that has to do with energy generation and transmission has risks. No such thing as perfect or foolproof. We should keep striving for low cost, high efficiency energy systems, while using every reasonable means of reducing risks to life and health.

  29. What are you talking about? We are building new reactors,NuScale,Xe Energy,Ultra Sfe Nuclear,Terrestrial Energy which is a type of salt reactor a IMSR OKLO, and a few others,Bill Gates fast reactor .Natrium.

  30. "Large Government" Now, a big topic. Janov observes that people who are successful in Primal Therapy have a "live and let live" attitude. A short definition of "libertarian". As Breaking the Cycle of Abuse, childhood PTSD, adult PTSD, neglected child epigenetic changes, and other studies in the burgeoning field of Primal Science advance, more will discover Janov. His reports of epigenetic changes in adults with non drug therapy are ignored, even in Wiki, as too dangerous and definitive to be discussed. They, the reports, initially were used to deride Janov because they are *obviously* impossible. Except, they actually happen. As you have said, the science will never change. When NASA gets serious about Primal Therapy because the conditions of Space are likely to mimic birth, we will see how advanced our science establishment is. Expect insanity.

  31. The Criswell design uses the more standard 2.5 GHz, but as with O'Neill, it is the simple idea that matters, the Moon IS a solar power sat, rather than detailed tech stuff that is old already. The min size of the radars thus is determined by frequency, distance and rectennae size, usu 1 KM. These rectennae are used by everybody, so they are the starting point. Needs thought. BUT, the radar size needed for the power density limit, at 20 TWe, is bigger than that, so more radars are needed even at Moon or L5 distance. Otherwise, the distance from cell to radar gets unneededly long. Using higher frequencies was checked out by Mankins, and he went back down. Now, the higher frequency plans might become weapons. Whatever works the best! For now, the fact that we are not talking about Mars is delightful.

  32. Thing is, if instead of a star, Sol was a nice big laser (if I were king…), there'd be no need for conversion in space at all.  Just reflect Sol down to Dirt with a sufficiently large mirror, and be done with it. Something perhaps only 1 km diameter (up there) could result in hêll-hot spots of only a few meters.  

    But Sol isn't a laser. Nowhere near.  0.5° divergence.  The smallest possible spot a mirror might contrive to focus of Sol on Dirt would be some 300 km across from Geosynchronous 35,000 km altitude. Sad, but true.

    So, a highly coherent beam needs to be efficiently formed, and well focussed on the receiving stations on Dirt. Just the way of the world, it is.  

    And that takes turning Sol's prodigious output (well over 1,300,000,000 W/km²) into electricity 'up there', and then converting it to a high enough frequency — again efficiently — for a tiny wavelength, to beam to more manageable receivers, down here on Planet Terra. AKA Dirt.

    Best guess is 100 GHz. Near the maximum truly efficient solid-state generation, compact, easily scaled. And the atmosphere is nearly transparent to it. And with only 1 km of 'focussing and positioning' 'up there', we could realize 300 m diameter hot-spots down here.  10% λ → electricity → GHz waves → electricity → grid.

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  33. Search Criswell LSP find searchanddiscovery link for plan (edit: ppg 12-13 for power beaming starter kit, works for now), as I agree with you about GEO sats. (This is a newer paper than the Beijing one). 20-200 TWe, not small 100 G stuff as you mention. Enuf to matter for global weirding. ~1 T both $ and W-e for economic break even, starter kit. There is good news and bad news about power beaming. The bad news is that the distances require, by a very well accepted law of Physics, very large aperture for even 20% solar insolation intensity. The good news is that that means they CANNOT be weaponized, in any practical sense.

    As to who does it? Energy companies, either to make money or pay off the C fee they owe. Or, we just give up? How? Part of O'Neill plans:

  34. We've parried on this for years now. To remind readers, I am an ADVOCATE of space-based power — in general — but a skeptic that Large Government can accomplish such a fraught-with-gotchas technology any time soon. I mean, seriously… who would YOU believe who could get a 100 GW solar panel station and synthetic aperture down-beam put in geosynchronous orbit (not completely necessary, but certainly helpful)?

    The US?
    We couldn't pull off a 1960s level NASA-Moon-Shot program … if the fate of the nation depended upon it. 
    We can't structure a fast-track for on-dirt 7-nines safe nuclear power builds.
    We haven't the bahls to plan and bid for thorium breeder mini-reactors. 
    … the very kind that'd be almost perfect for regionally bolstering 'the grid'
    … … for the coming E-Car apocalypse.  

    China? Maybe. 
    They're still in that 'devil-may-care' science-and-industry mode. 
    THEY have the funny-money banking that can foot most-any Big Project.
    Its not like any of the multitude can seriously critique a poorly run State project.

    Maybe China.

    International co-operation? 
    Not even a goat's chance in a starving Ethiopian sanctuary. 

    China. Maybe. 
    And only if 100% of the power goes to China.  
    Using China rockets.
    And China everything. 
    And who knows what shenanigans for software back-doors.

    Because a REALLY big space power station makes an excellent weapon.
    … gone Rogue.

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  35. Yes, time to move this stuff to Space, long ago now. Start with Space Solar and Earth to Earth power beaming, so a big flare will not destroy the grid and cause the nukes to run out of diesel fuel because of social unrest and all melt down and destroy all life on Earth above ground. Or whatever. Musk is right to be worried, just has the wrong lifeboat.

    edit: Just add Earth to Earth power beaming to the following for complete happiness!
    They don't know of power beaming, btw: "While grid-sized solar farms are now typically cheaper than even the most advanced coal or gas-fired plants, additional savings will be required to pair clean energy sources with the expensive storage technology that’s needed for around-the-clock carbon-free power." Power beaming is INSTEAD OF storage.

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