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Electricity infrastructure in space?

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Tue Feb 01, 2005 9:52 am
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Electricity infrastructure in space? 
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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 11, 2005 2:05 pm
Yes - but this seems to be valid if the purpose is to provide electricity for Earth. What I have in mind here is to provide electricity at other planets up to the distances of the moons of the gas giants. In that case the costs of beaming the electricity would have to be compared to the costs of the fossile fuels plus their transportation costs to that distances. It would be required to transport them repeatedly. RTGs and similar nuclear sources will be exhausted one day too - so they have to be refreshed by transportation of new generators. Beaming the elctricity would remove these transportation requirements and transportation capacity could be used for transportation of other goods and products (water, food, repair material, equipment, instruments etc.).



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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 11, 2005 3:31 pm
Hi Andy,

I read those articles too. It always amazes me when people use low cost to justify technology in space when the SAME technology costs too much on Earth. Solar cells are too expensive because their manufacture is a LABOR INTENSIVE process and not because the materials or energy required is expensive. Use of solar cells is limited by purchase cost and not by clouds or atmospheric losses. If solar cells were cheap enough they would be on every roof on Earth.

The bottom line is that if solar cells could ever be made cheaply enough to be economically viable in space, then they would be economically viable on Earth.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 7:06 am
Hello, Peter,

I don't know if your answer to Andy Hill has anything to do woth my posts - I agree to what you are saying.

But my intention at initiation of this thread was NOT to discuss to provide electricity for Earth - my intention was to discuss ways to provide electricity for regions of the solar systen where the sunlight is too weak to be used for the generation of electricity.

Under the aspect of manned stations or real colonies nuclear reactors to me are not satisfying.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 12:57 pm
I agree. Solar cells make VERY good sense in remote locations where there is no power or connection to the power grid. I would say space qualifies as remote.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 1:04 pm
This answer of yours is puzzling me - because ESA and NASA explicitly don't use solar sails (or panels) with solar cells at the distances of Jupiter and Saturn. And they explicitly don't do that because the sunlight is to weak at the distances of those gas giants. They make use of nuclear generators instead which is satisfying in the case of unmanned probes - but it won't be if stations would be installed there (deep within the ice of Europa for example).



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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 1:12 pm
I don't know why you are puzzled. You have specifically spoken about power on or near the Moon and Mars in this thread, where solar cells work well. My recent posts were speaking to those comments and also to Andy's comments about beaming power back to Earth.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 1:23 pm
I mentioned
Quote:
missions to Titan etc.
in the initial post ...



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Post Re: Electricity infrastructure in space?   Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 1:33 pm
And here is another quote from your first post:
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
Are microwaves and lasers efficient enough to beam electricity to the distance of Mars or would relay stations be required?


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 1:50 pm
Yes - but this quote doesn't mean that the other quote is irrelevant.

I mainly have in mind an electricity infrastructure that provides or can provide electricity in the distances of Jupiter and Saturn. If such an infrastructure is or can be made possible then the requirement of the exhaustable nuclear generators could be reduced out there.

But if such an infrastructure would be installed really - regardless of doing so by beams or by transportation of electricity storages - then it would or could be advantagous to use it for Mars, Moon and vehicles too: advantagous in the economical sense.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 1:56 pm
Really Ekkehard :roll:
I was mostly replying to Andy's post about beaming lunar power to Earth. And I was not totally off topic from your original post anyway, because you DID mention Mars.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 2:13 pm
My last post didn't mean that you are completely off-topic. It's different - it looks like you considered the parts of my post as if there were no connection between them. This seems to cause misunderstandings or/and misinterpretations - may be my fault.

An analog is a highway - highways are constructed to connect places and locations that are very far away from each other. In Germany "far away" means hundreds of kilometers, in the US it is much more I suppose.

But because the highways all are passing also places and locations close to each other and close to the beginning or the end of the highway these places and locations are connected to the highway too and make use of it.

The analoga here of the palces and locations that are very far away from each other are Earth at the beginning of the electricity infrastructure and the gas giants at its end. The analoga of the places and highways close to the beginning are the Moon and Mars. Stations and vehicle in the asteroid belt could be considered to be close to Mars.

This is what I have in mind - it means that my mentioning of Mars shouldn't be separated or disconnected of my mentioning of Titan. To do the separation or disconnection would mean to alter the sense of my post.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 12, 2005 4:14 pm
Not sure I should have posted the article now as I did not wish to create an argument about relevance. :?

I thought it was relevant because it talked about beaming the power to Earth and I thought that this idea might be extended to other places or even locally across the lunar surface either using point to point dishes or bounced of relay satelites. Such technology might be extended still further to Mars and beyond with power relays refocussing the beam at regular intervals.

It was also interesting to note that the author thought that the centennial elevator prize might be a sneaky way for NASA to develope this power beaming/collecting technology for future lunar application. :)

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Post    Posted on: Wed Apr 13, 2005 12:20 pm
Hello, Andy Hill,

I never had a problem with your posts but it seems to me that I misunderstood you or/and the article.

The article is talking economically and politically and is assisting the idea to generate electricity at the moon and beam it to Earth then - but it simply recommends to hide that project. It should be hidden to avoid political and cultural problems. It recommends the way NASA is going currently concerning this idea.

I don't agree to all of the economical analysis of Dinkin but to some only but his advice is very good. (One point I don't agree to is Dinkin's comparison of the costs of LSP to the costs of fossile fuels - but I don't want to discuss my non-agreements here because they are by far too non-technological=

The article is not talking under the technological aspect but it's a good idea of yours to post the link to it here. And it's of excellent interdisciplinarity.



Thank You Very Much for that link.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 14, 2005 11:08 am
I have been looking for a while for a thread where I posted a special answer to a post of - supposedly - yours, Peter. But it may have been a post of someone else.

I didn't find the thread and the post(s) - so I post a new answer here.

The topic was to provide electricity at the Moon and generating it at the Moon. The use of solar cells at the lunar surface had been considered and I mentioned that this requires daylight which isn't available each fortnight at the lunar surface. I got the answer that a mirror or an array of mirrors could orbit the Moon to provide sunlight at the nightside of the Moon. If I remember right I argued further.

The article "Perfect Spot Found for Moon Base" ( www.space.com/scienceastronomy/050413_moon_perfect.html ) now says that there is a chance that at the rim of the Peary crater the sun never sets.

If this proves to be right then the problem discussed don't exist at the rim of the Peary crater if the solar cells would be installed at that rim. The daylight-night-argument wouldn't be valid there, no mirrors and the like would be required there.

It may be though that problems and challenges occur that have to be discussed in other threads...



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PS: Does someone else know the thread and posts I have been looking for? If so then please post a link to it by an answer here.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 14, 2005 1:00 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
I have been looking for a while for a thread where I posted a special answer to a post of - supposedly - yours, Peter. But it may have been a post of someone else.

I didn't find the thread and the post(s) - so I post a new answer here.
I can't find it either. But I agree that a crater rim near the pole where the Sun is visible 100% of the time is an ideal place for a solar array.


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