Harnessing power from the moon

ASTRONOMER AND researcher Dr. David Criswell suggests in the Industrial Physicist that the Earth could be getting all of the electricity it needs using solar cells — on the moon.

In the article Criswell proposes a Lunar Solar Power (LSP) System, using arrays of solar cells on the lunar surface to beam energy back to Earth. Criswell estimates that the 10 billion people living on Earth in 2050 will require 20 Terrawatts (TW) of power.

The Moon receives 13,000 TW of power from the sun. Criswell suggests that harnessing just 1 per cent of the solar power and directing it toward Earth could replace fossil fuel power plants on Earth.

"The lunar operations are primarily industrial engineering," says Criswell. He adds that LSP would be even cheaper if parts of the production machinery are designed to be made of lunar materials.

The LSP system consists of 20-40 lunar power bases, situated on the eastern and western edges of the moon, as seen from Earth.

Each power base has a series of solar cells to collect energy from the sun, which is sent over buried electric wires to microwave generators that convert the solar electricity to microwaves.

The generators then send the energy to screens that reflect the microwave beams toward Earth, where they are received by arrays of special antennas strategically placed about the globe.

"Each antenna converts the microwave power to electricity that is fed into the local power grid," says Criswell.

"LSP is probably the only option for powering a prosperous world within the 21st century," says Criswell. However, it does require a return to the moon.

The system depends on some human occupation of the moon to build and run the lunar bases, adds the researcher.

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