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This project derives from an attempt to find ways of preventing the consumption of resources, which future generations will be deprived of due to our thoughtless wasteful-ness forests, gas, oil, uranium etc. Perhaps we are still in time to prevent this disaster and save ourselves from the extremely serious economic-social environmental crisis that has so tragically marked the beginning of this new millennium. Just as Hiroshima and Nagasaki horribly shattered the belief that progress and well-being could coincide, the Fukushima tragedy has clarified once and for all that nuclear energy was one of the most devastating mistakes committed last century it makes no difference whether “brilliant” engineers will come up with deceptive, phantasmagoric safety systems (sic!) to enable the construction of nuclear power stations to continue, the nuclear age is well and truly over. The collective psyche already suspects, or even fears, that burning uranium or plutonium (regardless of whether they are impoverished) is crazy. I not only believe that the hydrocarbons ages is over (Rifkin), but also that the time has come to end the age of burning things to obtain energy and “possess/consume/destroy” in order to live. The internal combustion engine, car and even nuclear energy all come from burning wood, coal, oil and gas. We have already burnt all the forests and then coal and now we are burning oil and even uranium and (I hope Rifkin will forgive me for saying this) actually dream about burning water (hydrogen). I think we can jump the hydrogen queue and move directly on to the only energy source that, as Jeremy Rifkin has so clearly explained, the law of thermodynamics allows us to use without creating any further and unsustainable “entropy” (due to the fact it comes from outside the planet), in other words the thing that has made life possible and which, at least for a few years more will allow life to carry on here on Earth: the Sun. A number of countries are already taking steps to make use of solar energy by building structures that orbit around our planet. Dr Patrick Collins is the Head of the SPS 2000 Project (Solar Power from Space), a demonstrative project promoted by the Japanese government and NASDA (Japanese Space Agency) to col-lea solar energy by means of satellites and send it down to earth along a beam of microwaves. Working in conjunction with Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Ecuador, Colombia, Malaysia, Brazil, Tanzanian and the Maldives, Japan is planning to construct a first orbiting station measuring 4000 square meters by 2045. Other countries are working on similar projects. The Pacific Gas and Electric Company, one of the biggest energy companies in America, is setting the same goals for 2016. SF’S (Solar Power from Space) has several advantages compared to Earth-based projects. First of all, we need to consider that fas Patrick Collins explains) terrestrial solar power requires much bigger expanses of land; then energy needs to be stored in large quantities to compensate for cloudy days,’ finally if for example, energy needs to be supplied to Europe and the plants are located in Africa, means of convey-ing the energy will be required and this will inevitably involve further impact on the land. Solar power from space, on the other hand, can convey energy all over the earth. Terrestrial solar power may be more convenient in places where large expanses of land are available close to users, but this is not the case in more densely populated areas, which may, however, have the relatively small amount of land required for rectennas (reception antennas). Now that the nuclear age is over; we must find the right solution to the problem. A big solution to an enormous problem that can feasibly be carried out in steps using light, non-inva-sive problem-solving technology. So why do not we take these assumptions to their most extreme consequences and think big? We might envisage planning a Space Energy Belt, a global energy netwoth; this would mean designing an infrastructure that would extend beyond our own personal life spans to cover a scope of over one hundred years. We might even envisage building a ring around the planet made of a lightweight material, a cloud network made of photovoltaic material or an extremely thin string of photovoltaic “fabric”; we could place it in a geostatic position ready to convey dean energy to Earth on a wireless basis. This would be enough to meet the energy needs of the entire world population and even more. Let’s make a few calculations. The world’s yearly energy consumption is 13 TeraWatN (TVV) — 1 1W equals 1,000,000,000,000 W or, in other words, about 1,000,000 x 1,000,000 W – 170,000 71,1V solar energy reach the Earth, equal to 1.371 Wim2, but 55% of this quantity does not actually reach the ground due to the effects of the atmosphere. The amount of energy reaching the Earth’s surface is further decreased by the angle at which it hits the surface due to the earth’s curvature, and the day-night cycle decreases the amount of usable energy on a 24-hour basis by more than half. But most significantly the surface area required to cover our predict-ed energy needs, for example,. for 2050 by means of solar energy would be approximately 1,200,000 krn.7 (approximately the surface area of France, Spain and Italy put together). Too much land to be taken away from farm-ing, forests and nature. A string of photo-voltaic ‘fabric” measuring just 100/200 meters in height for a length of 260,000 km
(geostationary orbit) would, having completed the loop, develop an amount of power using current technology equal to forecast energy needs for 2050: 300 TW. In 2050 this string (using technology comparably as efficient as that incorporated in panels currently used in space) would require a 200-meter front to meet the estimated energy needs. But the time required for design and construction would take us well beyond 2050. The energy efficiency of photovoltaic material is being . rapidly improved and will evolve even more rapidly now that the nuclear age Es OM. When we manage to get closer to 100% efficiency seeing as there are no obstacles in space (clouds, day/night), our space can be reduced to 100 meters in length to form an overall loop of 26,000 km2; less than 3 m2 of photovoltaic mass in orbit per person (for an estimated world population of 9.2 in 2050). The ring could be well be forever directly in orbit by micro robots drawing on both well-established forms of nanotechnology and those still being developed. We could use silicon and carbon taken directly’ from space to construct something thinner than a hair that would be held together and able to withstand “solar wind` thanks to a. micro magnetic field created out of part of the energy absorbed. The ring is formed out of a dust “cloud”, carbon particles presumably measuring 10 nm (nanometre = 10 to minus 9 m = 1 millionth of a millimeter) with a volume of between 10 – 100 thousand atoms. Each particle must be composed of a photovoltaic module (skin), an energy accumulator (battery) and energy transmitter (antenna). The particles will held together and set in place by the magnetic created by the particles themselves. They also self-replicate and position themselves absorbing the carbon and silicon found in space. Of course, these are just theories and the ect at its present state is certainly “visionary” in terms of its spatio-temporal extension We are currently putting together an initials’ work team together with Prof Andrea Ferrara, an ,astrophysicist from Pisa University The team will be composed of aerospace engineers, physicists, chemists and engineers specializing in nanotechnology. Mankind’s energy needs, the dramatic lack resources, and the need to come up “clean ” solutions, call for a radical and visionary ideas, proposals and hypotheses capable directing research and the quest for solutions beyond and well away from the kind of thinking that until now has only led to the destruction, consumption and entropy of the only planet where the human race can live at the moment.