Aiming lunar while going solar

While some people are trying to figure out whether they want to install solar panels on the roofs of their houses, a Japanese firm is attempting to determine whether it can build a 6,800-mile ring of solar panels around the moon. Ever since the Fukushima power plant was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, Japan has been trying to regain some of its lost nuclear energy, or replace it altogether.

The plan involves robots mining the moon’s surface for materials to help build a belt of solar panels 250 miles wide around the moon’s equator, ensuring constant exposure to the sun without the interference of cloud cover. The panels would send energy to receiving stations on Earth by laser, microwave transmission or whatever new technology may have been developed by then.

The firm, Shimizu Corporation of Tokyo, believes it could generate 13,000 terawatts of energy per year through these panels. As a comparison, the U.S. produced 4,500 terawatts in 2011. This project may seem rather futuristic – and it is. A firm spokesperson estimated that assuming it can acquire funding, work could begin on the project by 2035.

More immediately, have you given any thought to installing solar panels on the roof of your home to save on electrical bills and be prepared for power outages? If so, what has held you back from doing it so far? I’d love to hear from you about this.


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