Getting power from the moon

A physicist from Houston believes that it is possible for Earth to get all of its electricity from solar cells housed on the Moon.

Dr. David Criswell has reported in the April/May issue of The Industrial Physicist that the Earth could get all of the electricity it needs using solar cells housed on the Moon.

Criswell proposes a Lunar Solar Power (LSP) system, using arrays of solar cells on the lunar surface to beam energy back to Earth.

Criswell estimates that the 10 billion people living on Earth in 2050 will require 20 Terrawatts (TW) of power. The Moon receives 13,000 TW of power from the sun. Criswell suggests that harnessing just 1% of the solar power and directing it toward Earth could replace fossil fuel power plants on Earth.

‘The lunar operations are primarily industrial engineering,’ said Criswell. He and Dr, Robert Waldron first described LSP in 1984 at a NASA symposium on Lunar Bases and Space Activities in the 21st Century.

‘Adequate knowledge of the moon and practical technologies have been available since the late 1970’s to collect this power and beam it to Earth. The system can be built on the moon from lunar materials and operated on the moon and on Earth using existing technologies,’ reducing the expenses associated with transporting materials to the moon.

The proposed LSP system is said to consist of 20-40 lunar power bases situated on the eastern and western edges of the moon, as seen from Earth. Each power base would have a series of solar cells to collect energy from the sun, which would be sent over buried electric wires to microwave generators that convert the solar electricity to microwaves.

The generators then send the energy to screens that reflect the microwave beams toward Earth, where they are received by arrays of special antennas strategically placed about the globe. ‘Each antenna converts the microwave power to electricity that is fed into the local power grid,’ said Criswell.

‘LSP is probably the only option for powering a prosperous world within the 21st century,’ said Criswell. ‘However, it does require a return to the moon.’ The system depends on some human occupation of the moon to build and run the lunar bases, but Criswell also sees this as an opportunity. ‘Once we are back and operating at large scale then going down the various learning curves will make travelling to the moon and working there routine.’