Moon-based solar panels could someday power the Earth

Credit: Shimizu Corp.

A Japanese company has taken stock of the world's energy needs and come up with a solution that is quite literally a moon shot. Shimizu Corp plans to construct a 250-mile wide belt of solar cells across the moon's equator. From this "Luna Ring," the solar energy will be beamed down to the Earth's surface as laser beams and microwaves.

The plan calls for not only a massive, 6,835-mile long belt of solar panels to be constructed on the moon, but for energy collectors to be set up across the globe, which would then take advantage of the moon's collected energy. Constructing the Earth-side facilities would be a bit of an undertaking, but at least it could be completed by human workers. Laying and networking over 170,000 square miles of solar cells upon the surface of the moon, however, would have to be left to hands better suited to the lunar atmosphere.

A fleet of construction robots would be shipped, along with the supplies needed to construct the massive array, to the moon. There they would toil endlessly until the solar cells were all up and running. Once installed, the solar cells would make use of the axial rotation of the moon. Sun-facing cells would collect energy and store it until they were facing the Earth once more. Then massive laser and microwave transmitters would fire up, beaming power to their partner stations around the globe.

The benefits of a lunar array of this size would be impressive. Weather-related issues with current solar energy collection would disappear. Solar energy would be collected 24 hours a day. Reliance on nuclear power plants like the one in Fukushima would be eliminated. It's a wonderful concept, but constructing the largest solar array ever — with robot construction workers on the moon no less — is a heck of a challenge. If the Luna Ring is indeed in humanity's stars, we'll all have to come together to bring it into existence.

Shimizu Corp., via Clean Technica

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