Vast amounts of (electrical) power and a Moon colony by 2030? Count me in!
It's an ill wind that blows no good and the "hot" wind for Fukushima has left Japanese engineers and futurists wondering how they'll keep the lights on. One idea reboots an old notion: solar power from orbit, beaming down microwaves or lasers. Inefficient? Sure, but with the Sun on the other end of the line, who care? Atmospheric losses are low and you let the beams spread and pick them up on huge "rectennas" or broad, floating solar collectors.
But where the original concept called for solar power satellites in orbit, Shimizu takes another approach: "paving" the Moon in solar cells and transmission facilities in a broad ring around its equator. Crazy? Maybe; but it does avoid the tricky parts of trying to build really big structures in orbit, and keep techs around to work on 'em. Mind you, it's on a scale that makes damming the Strait of Gibraltar and lowering the Mediterranean Sea look like a Science Fair project, but the payoff would be even bigger.
...Look for it to get shouted down by the same idiots who don't understand RF field strength that doomed the original SPS, but if Japan gets cold enough, they'll try something and I sure hope this is still on the table.
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