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Why not use the moon for energy?

  1. Jul 28, 2003 #1
    Why not build an enormous solar collector panel on the moon and use it to harvest energy and somehow bring it back to earth? Is it the cost of the undertaking?

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  3. Jul 28, 2003 #2


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    Getting the energy back to earth would be extremely difficult. It would be a lot easier to place solar panels in various desert areas (U.S southwest, Sahara, Kalari, Arabia, Gobi, etc.) on earth.
  4. Jul 28, 2003 #3


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    Or even just to place them in orbit around the Earth, if you're talking about the advantages of no atmosphere/no night.
  5. Jul 28, 2003 #4

    if you could set that up on the moon could you use focused microwaves to send the energy back to earth ive always wondered about something like that aswell

  6. Jul 28, 2003 #5
    well i think solar panels usually charge up batteries for power, if you put panels on the moon, and use microwaves to send the energy back you could only be getting energy half the time. So you solve that you make the moon send it to a sattleite in geosynchronus orbit to power that and then send power back to us. But i dont think it would be worth it, since no one part of the moon is always pointed at the sun, you would only get a half cycle. So you would only get around 15 days a cycle when the panels are in the sun.
  7. Jul 28, 2003 #6


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    But just think how long the electric cables would have to be!
  8. Jul 29, 2003 #7
    When I first saw the topic of your post I thought of tides. Is there such a device that uses the tides caused by the gravitational field of the moon to produce energy? Not talking dams or the like, just using tidal motion to produce energy.
  9. Jul 29, 2003 #8


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    Certainly a major (but feasible) engineering undertaking which would require a lot of political motivation (which is not there at the moment).
  10. Jul 29, 2003 #9


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    Building solar panels on the moon isn't that great an option. The moon has a 28 day rotation. Any panel would be active for 14 days and then inactive for 14 days. Couple that with several hundred degree temperature shifts from day to night, and you'd have big problems keeping the array in operation for very long.

    An orbital array is more feasible, but there is still a fairly large problem with maintenance. When the cells burn out, replacements would need to be brought up from the surface at $10,000 per pound, and then you'd still need to get a working repair craft to do the fix (which could also break down).

    It's possible, but not very practical until we either get construction facilities in orbit for replacement parts or the launch costs drop dramatically.
  11. Jul 29, 2003 #10

    popular science had an artical about a new way to collect energy from tides i thought it was pretty interesting, i tried finding the artical online but couldn't hope you have more luck, i thought it was really interesting

  12. Jul 29, 2003 #11
    See here:

    http://acdisweb.acdis.uiuc.edu/NPRE201/fall02web/webpages/barthel/tech.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  13. Jul 29, 2003 #12


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    Re: tides

    Yeah, I saw that one too. But it's not like I din't
    think of it before either. It's really the simplest stuff
    that even any kid can think of. Funding the consturction
    is a different issue. For example, wind turbines could
    easily supply all the power needs of the world and they
    operate all the time so any country can build them separately
    and would just have to make sure it has enough of them.
    The construction could easily be managed over the course
    of several years so that it would actually cost nothing
    at all because the new savings due to the turbines constructed
    each year would make up for the costs of their construction
    the year before. Once they supply the majority of the
    energy a country requires the financial gain, if other countries
    are still using fossil fuels or even nuclear plants, would
    be enormous since the turbines only require a bit of maintaince
    and nothing more. Why isn't being done ? Because an energy
    revolution like this in even just one small country will
    greatly affect the world's political and mainly economical
    arenas and power distribution and the ones in control
    today wouldn't like that to happen.

    Live long and prosper.
  14. Jul 29, 2003 #13
    Mathman's alternative of making
    use of desert areas right here
    on earth would be much easier
    and cheaper to implement.
    From what I understand, solar
    to electric panels are still
    too expensive for this to be
    competitive with conventional
    generating systems.
    There is a geothermal plant
    here in Southern California that
    takes advantage of an area of
    thin crust to send water down
    into the earth where it's heat-
    ed to 300F and comes back up
    as steam to run turbines.
    A person can make a solar oven
    that will get up to 300F from
    a cardboard box, aluminum foil,
    and a pane of glass. Seems to
    me it would be a cinch to engineer
    a steam generating plant to be
    powered by the desert sun. The
    water would be used over and over.
  15. Jul 29, 2003 #14


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    How do you expect to keep the microwaves focused on the receiver? The earth is rotating!
  16. Jul 29, 2003 #15
    Re: alternative energy

    Being powered by the tides may seem like a good idea, but they change the environment just as much as anything else. I think Hawaii has tidal generators, but their power comes from the orbiting of the moon. As it is the moon is receding, causing the precession of the earth to become more chaotic, and tidal generators make it worse. It'd be a billion years before anyone notices, but I think tidal power could unnessecarily shorten Earth's habitable lifespan.
  17. Jul 31, 2003 #16
    I thought about this at first too, but then i figured out this idea is pointless.
    On earth the same thing happens, the panels work only for 12 hours out of 24 (depending on where you are on earth of course, but i mean in average), which is the same as 14 days/28 days (and btw, as far as i know the moon takes 29.5 days for a full rotation, not 28).
    Or .. am i missing sth ?
  18. Jul 31, 2003 #17
    it would bounce off satellites that are rotating around the earth aswell when the receiver was farthest away from the moon as possible it might have to bounce off 2 satellites to make it to the reciever it could be done

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