# Japan building space-based power plant

1. Sep 8, 2009

### Mk

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601080&sid=aF3XI.TvlsJk [Broken]
http://www.scientificamerican.com/b...hy-not-spend-21-billion-on-solar-p-2009-09-02
Well this should be interesting. Japan is one of the leading nations in nuclear power and is not afraid to make breakthroughs in technology and engineering.

I remember when I was 7 years old and would play Sim City 3000. The best power plant you could build was the one where satellites would beam down a maser of energy generated from solar radiation. The future will be cool.

Future aircraft and avians will have to watch out to avoid getting fried.

Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
2. Sep 8, 2009

### Staff: Mentor

Raise your hand if you think this will happen?

Didn't think so.

Some interesting tidbits from the articles:
Assuming all of that is accurate, they are intending to provide the equivalent power of 1 nuclear reactor for twice the cost and taking twice as long to build (assuming pessimistic estimates for the nuclear plant and including US-like regulatory hurdles).
So existing US government research/studies imply they are off in their price estimate by a factor of 5.

B-O-O-N-D-O-G-G-L-E.

Last edited: Sep 8, 2009
3. Sep 8, 2009

### Integral

Staff Emeritus
I am with Russ, this is just too expensive. Another problem, the geocentric orbits are already crowded, at least over areas where you would need the power, so I doubt that there is room in that orbit for the huge antenna needed for this project. Now if they do not put the power station in a geocentric orbit a single receiving station is not possible. Now you need to first track the receiving station, then make a jump to the next as it comes over the horizon.

4. Sep 8, 2009

### Cyrus

If Japan doesn't build this where will James Bond go to save the world and enjoy Asian cuisine? Recall the last time he was in Japan they were sending russian rockets into space out of a volcano and hijacking US space capsules.

Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2009
5. Sep 8, 2009

### Topher925

Its a cool idea and while it will work I just don't think it is cost effective. I think there are more than one companies working on the same concept although I don't think any have proven it to be economically viable. One of my professors has a pretty good blog write up about this, I'll see if I can find it.

6. Sep 8, 2009

### mgb_phys

I welcome our space based giant magnifying glass overlords.

7. Sep 9, 2009

That's a mere $70,000 per home - what a deal! Maybe they could offset some of their development costs by magnetizing it - to collect space junk for a fee. 8. Sep 9, 2009 ### Ian_Brooks why not pour that money behind iter and get us fusion energy faster? 9. Sep 9, 2009 ### mgb_phys Because the money doesn't exist. USEF is a small think-tank/quango outside the Japanese space agency. They are no more likely to actually build or launch this than when some darpa funded researcher at a US university talks about legions of flesh eating robot zombie soldiers. 10. Sep 9, 2009 ### WhoWee Maybe there's a little room in the stimulus plan for a little joint venture? 11. Sep 9, 2009 ### mheslep Since when have boondoggle projects been deprived of funding? Five, ten years ago the Japanese could not find enough boondoggles to fund. There's the airport without planes, and this http://www.nytimes.com/1999/11/25/world/economic-stimulus-in-japan-priming-a-gold-plated-pump.html" [Broken] extension that nobody needed. So no hands raised if you phrase the question "Is this a practical alternative", but phrased "if you think this will happen", and they gave themselves 30 years - you might well lose that bet. Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017 12. Sep 9, 2009 ### Proton Soup not sure boondoggle is the right word here. it's a proof of concept. lots of engineering will go into designing something that hasn't been built before. but if there's anything the japanese are good at, it's building thousands of them smaller and cheaper. or, maybe it's just a japanese cash-for-clunkers program. keeps their economy "stimulated" and keeps scientists and engineers and whatever technological know-how they've accumulated in-country. in any case, it's a lot less silly than lunar/mars missions. 13. Sep 9, 2009 ### mheslep Another thought occurs: if space based solar power is placed in the same category as space exploration, especially manned, i.e. do it because a) we-want-to-see-if-we-can, and b) we'll make scientific and engineering advances along the way, then this project wins out in my mind over collecting another bag of rocks from the Moon, or even the first from Mars. 14. Sep 9, 2009 ### russ_watters ### Staff: Mentor The difference is in whether it will happen or not. Building a subway no one needs is still a functional subway. This project is not even intended to happen. The MO is the same as Bush's promised trip to Mars: 1. Promise the moon (or Mars, or in this case, the Sun). Be sure the timeline of your promise far exceeds your term in office. 2. Attach a cost to it. It doesn't matter if the cost is realistic or not, attaching a cost shows commitment. 3. Put together a funding schedule that starts with small-scale studies for you, now; and real engineering and development costs that have to be comitted by someone else, a few years from now. 4. Commit just enough funds to the project to keep a few hundred engineers running around on hamster wheels, generating reports, until your term in office expires. 5. Leave office and hand the completely worthless project off to your successor. This just in: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/2009-09-08-nasa-future_N.htm Raise your hand if this surprises you. Didn't think so. No, I'd bet my house on it.....well, maybe my car. Possible exception: The ISS has been kicked-around since the early '80s. I toured a life-sized mockup of the then Space Station Freedom when I went to Space Camp in around 1989 (also in the hanger, a life-sized mockup of the Shuttle-C to heft it into orbit). I fully believe Reagan intended this to happen and he comitted real development money to the project, but the timeline still required commitment across multiple administrations, making it difficult to sustain/complete the project. Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017 15. Sep 9, 2009 ### mheslep Tempting bet, unless you drive an clunker. 16. Sep 9, 2009 ### russ_watters ### Staff: Mentor If you are referring to this: ....you are reading something into it that isn't there. Don't worry - it is intentionally misleading: -The actual work being started is 4 years of research on wireless power transfer. No promise of even a prototype/proof of concept delivery was attached to that (in the article). That's in paragraph 2, which contains the only real news in the entire article. -4 years doesn't take you to 2015, so we cannot conclude from the article that the proof of concept satellite is being funded. The timeline mismatch and lack of a statement about a deliverable in the one paragraph of real news implies that it isn't. This is funding for 4 years of running engineers around in hamster wheels, nothing more. 17. Sep 9, 2009 ### mheslep This space gizmo in no way disables the existing power grid. I'm sure it will be much less obtrusive than all the torn up subway streets. Worse case they're out$20B worth of tax yen.

Yep, trouble is many real long term big ticket programs have that same look in the beginning. The ISS as you note was/is a good example. Heck subways are often a 10-20 year gig.

This the country of space borne Godzilla foes. I think they're due for something like this.

18. Sep 9, 2009

2004 Mazda 6i, 102,000 miles. I'd guess it is worth about $8 grand. I love that car. But I consider this easy money. Would you also like to bet on Australia's "Solar Tower"? Remember that one? 19. Sep 9, 2009 ### russ_watters ### Staff: Mentor You missed my point. The subway was built. This solar transmitter will not be built. One is a boondoggle that costs$1B and is built, the other is a boondoggle that is projected to cost $40B, but$1B is spent and it produces nothing.

20. Sep 9, 2009

### mheslep

I get it, I get it.
$10B$21B
Nothing spent yet by Japan, per those original articles.

These projects can get built in one-offs if there's enough excitement about them: inefficient California wind turbines in the 70s, same with the the 30-40 year old 'Solar One' solar thermal plant. Remember we're not talking about an entire industry here, just one bunch o' floating mirrors. And I need only one to collect your ride. I'd say if it happens they'll scale it down to 100-300MW. Does that get me a spare tire and your hood ornament?

Last edited: Sep 9, 2009