back to article Wireless powersats promise clean, permanent, abundant energy. Sound familiar?

There's a fine line between madness and magic in technology. Unless you're talking about wireless power transmission, where woo outweighs watts every single time. It all started with Tesla – Nikola, not the car company – who got fixated on the idea at the start of the 20th century and built a giant tower to test it out. He …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    Aside from all the practical physics and engineering problems to overcome, a humongously big source of energy beaming down from space is asking for hacking, meteor strikes or gremlins , all enabled by Murphy who will see to it that a city gets cooked.

    Tin foil suits would be self basting.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      But a big old concentrated power station in space would be great for cooking incoming asteroids... Now THERE'S a twist on a meteor impact movie that's not been done yet. Got to swivel the solar collectors to reflect the sun instead and focus the beams on the incoming bad boy... Add a stroppy teenage female hacker, a failed priest, the teenage son of a tin-foil hat wearing survivalist and a government scientist that no-one will listen to who is going through a divorce, and you can start booking your 97 minute slot on The Horror Channel / Sci-Fi Channel now!

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Actually its been done in SciFi books several times. The Troy Rising trilogy by John Ringo is the most recent example that springs to mind, albeit with sunlight and solar mirrors but that's just a wavelength difference.

        Just like in Elite - anything powerful enough to use for mining makes a hell of an expedient weapons system.

        (American MilSciFi warning re Ringo)

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Happy

          Yup. My thoughts immediately returned to Terror by Satellite that I read as a kid. Written in 1964.

          He wrote some fun adolescent books.

          Journey to Jupiter (1965)

          Mission to Mercury (1965)

          Spaceship to Saturn (1967) (ISBN 978-0-571-08137-0)

          Nearly Neptune (1968) a.k.a. Neptune One is Missing

          Passage to Pluto (1973) (ISBN 084076457X)

          I really liked that series of books and it's a shame they appear to be all out of print. Although I used to joke that the reason he jumped from Neptune to Pluto was because the only title he could think of was 'Up Uranus'

          :)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Those Hugh Walters books, cheesy as they look from 2021, were what got me interested in science. I remember the local librarian suggested one when I was a kid, and that was it - hooked on scifi and still am.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              You are me and ICM£5

              (Except it was the school librarian)

              I found a few as ebooks on Usenet, but not the whole set. I've seen the odd dog eared one on ebay/Amazon over the years, but silly money.

              1. AndrueC Silver badge
                Go

                Whoah, folks! Not wishing to be subject to the wrath of my fellow commentards for mentioning a well known e-tailer and their home grown digital reader but if you were to do a search on that well known web site for 'Hugh Walters' you'd find you can get a lot of those books electronically for around £4 each.

                No idea when they became available but they weren't there a couple of years ago.

                I think nostalgia is worth £4 a book :)

              2. Jamesit

                Some of them aren't too expensive here https://www.alibris.com/booksearch?mtype=B&author=hugh+walters

                Alibris is a good place to fine rare books.

                1. Jamesit

                  I meant a good place to find rare books. Oops

              3. aks

                It's always worth checking on abebooks.co.uk / .com / etc.

          2. Andrew Scaife
            Holmes

            Who woke me up?

            W.E.Johns, best known for Biggles, also wrote SF for adolescents, his "Kings Of Space" series that started in the mid-50s. My gateway drug.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Pint

            Thanks for the memories - I had forgotten about those and have to thank a kindly librarian for pointing me at them once I grew out of the books in the children's library.

            Uranus did get a look in (quiet at the back) in 'First Contact'.

            And was it just me that got freaked out by the grey fungus that was brought to Earth by a Venus sample return mission. There was a scene with a dog covered in the goop that gave me nightmares for several nights.

            A beer for you sir!

          4. C R Mudgeon

            Alliteratively to Amalthea?

        2. Moldskred

          Just like in Elite - anything powerful enough to use for mining makes a hell of an expedient weapons system.

          Famously summarised as The Kzinti Lesson by Larry Niven.

        3. NoneSuch Silver badge
          Coffee/keyboard

          "Just like in Elite - anything powerful enough to use for mining makes a hell of an expedient weapons system."

          Elite maybe, but Elite: Dangerous mining lasers are wimpiness personified in combat.

        4. Glen 1

          Just adding to Books that explore this -

          Ben Bova: Powersat

          Underrated as an author. See the 'Grand Tour' series of books

      2. Sceptic Tank Silver badge
        Gimp

        No vampire?

      3. ForAmuserName

        I like it! Now if only there were..

        Call me old-school. I just can't believe it's science fiction unless there are shark falling out of the sky.

    2. romanempire
      Boffin

      A thought:-

      Instead of sending the energy to Earth, it could be used to drive space-based industry. At our current level of technology the two biggest constraints on our space activities are energy and raw materials. Orbital solar combined with asteroid capture would solve that. Then the only thing we'd need to send into orbit are meat-bags :-)

      P.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Is there a need for beam transmission in those circumstance though? Probably easier to just have the panels where you need them.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        And asteroid capture isn't an easy problem either. You need a lot of energy to get something to slow down and stay in a nice place and not hit any satellites or fall to the planet. That's happened before and it was unpleasant. Doing that will require more than a good energy source. Once that's done, the mining and manufacturing equipment will need somewhere to operate from. I have no doubt we'll invent enough to do it eventually, but this won't be enough and might not be needed at all.

      3. C R Mudgeon

        Locked solar orbit. Interesting thought. That would solve some (not all) of the problems Mr. Goodwins raises. Of course it might create others.

        If we put it somewhere between Mars and the asteroid belt, it would be a lot closer to its raw materials. ISTM to make a lot more sense to ship smelted metals or manufactured products than raw ore from there back to Earth. But at that distance, would a factory satellite have enough solar energy available to be useful?

        1. AndyFl

          Incident solar power

          A satellite about 1/2 way between Earth and Mars orbits would receive about 2/3 of the power per square m as one next to earth.

          This works out at about 900w/sqm. Not too shabby.

          Andy

      4. NoneSuch Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        No atmosphere on the moon. This would work better there than with Earths fluffy blanket of protective air.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Plus if you miss the landing, fewer people get angry.

    3. Sampler

      Speaking of basting, what about birds flying through the energy stream being beamed down from space?

      I mean the hippies complain about wind farms chewing up migratory birds, what they going to be saying about kfc opening up suspiciously close to the ground station....

  2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Won't there also be wondering no-fly zones for the downlinks areas as I'm sure most planes won't like high power radio beams.

    1. b0llchit Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Of course not. The beam-zone is a region for metal smelting. The planes are supposed to fly into the zone with ore and then you collect the resulting ingots at the next eclipse. Money falling from the sky, what is not to like?

      1. TDog

        Boeing

        If the above built the planes the same way they build their crew capsules they'd miss the bloody beam!

    2. hoola Silver badge

      Die Another Day becomes reality, what could possibly go wrong.

    3. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      You missed the piece on a diffuse energy density.

      1. Blank Reg Silver badge

        You can only diffuse the energy so much before you would have been better off just putting solar panels on the ground.

        1. BobC

          Except power sats can still beam power down during terrestrial night, when local solar goes silent.

    4. Bowlers

      Think of the Birds

      Aircraft can be routed around problem areas, birds not so easily.

  3. Ochib

    Icarus

    Just call it project Icarus and then get someone to hold the earth hostage from an ice hotel

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Icarus

      Surely Daedalus would be better? Just beware of labyrinths, smart arse nephews and mocking partridges...

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Icarus

      No, if you want to do it properly you need diamond satellites controlled from a penthouse suite in a Los Angeles hotel.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Icarus

        Nah, diamond satellites are so yesterday. Chinese boffins just reported that they’ve figured out a way to make harder-than-diamond glass. Coming soon at Alibaba near you.

  4. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    The main problem, just like the idea of a giant solar farm in the Sahara is security.

    If WW3 kicked off, these satellites would be the first things to be blown up. The only benefit is that jihadi lunatics couldn't get at them.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Are you sure?

      "The only benefit is that jihadi lunatics couldn't get at them." Musk and Branson are getting close and their only motivation is money. Eternity in heaven seems to be a far more effective motivator for some.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Are you sure?

        Jihadists, maybe not.

        The North Koreans....

    2. jmch Silver badge

      "The main problem, just like the idea of a giant solar farm in the Sahara is security."

      Not necessarily. Giant solar farms in the Sahara are, well... giant. Proper humungous. Like 1.4 million sqm

      https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/05/morocco-is-building-a-solar-farm-as-big-as-paris-in-the-sahara-desert/

      As long as it is built in a modular fashion without single points of failure, a jihadi group could damage part of it, but you'd need nation-state size resources to completely take out a facility of that size. Any 'single points' (central salt tower for molten salt plants, or electrical interconnecters) are more easily secured than the whole farm.

      More importantly, people who are relatively well-off in a stable nation-state (eg Morocco) tend not to generate many jihadis, and the nation itself can commit many resources to protect their assets.

      Think about it, a place like Morocco that can keep building these giant solar farms (and mastering the technology along the way) can eventually connect to Europe's grid and export the electricity, and that can become the same type of cash cow as oil is for the saudis.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        > and that can become the same type of cash cow as oil is for the saudis.

        Which is why the Saudi's favourite nation state will destroy it.

        1. mtp

          Sahara is the long term renewable energy source - just stop fighting and get it sorted!

          If a sahara country builds a megascale solar plant then they would become the next saudi arabia but with better long tern prospects. There will be nutters who want to blow things up for no good reason but this is always the case and solar is more resiliant to this than oil.

          Basically the only thing holding them back is the culture of coruption in these countries (look at Venezuela for a example). If they can get things stable then sub sahara will be the super rich of the late 2000s and will leave saudi in the messy dust but sadly I am not optimistic. Corrupt countries seem to be very hard to reform. The sahara is the engergy source of the future but sadly politics and religion look like holding it back for many decades.

          1. HelpfulJohn

            Re: Sahara is the long term renewable energy source - just stop fighting and get it sorted!

            *We* could build the mega-power farms and the other things that go with them then let them be nationalised by the locals.

            We did that with the oil and that turned out to be very profitable for us. ("Us" being USAlia, UKland and a couple of other corporate empires.)

            In the long-term, solar-power farms with subsidiary industries would be vastly more profitable than oil ever was and also longer-term. The Sun ain't going anywhere. Not for lots and lots of election-cycles.

            Odds are that farming the top end of Africa for power, and other crops, would cool it a lot leading to global cooling and the greening of the Sahara. Re-greening. That could only be a good thing for everyone.

            Especially were we to help them replace their goats with sheep and cows.

      2. HelpfulJohn

        Under the solar power farms the air would be cool, yes? Well, cooler. And there would be dimness if not entire darkness, true? I'm sure true darkness could be arranged, as could a large temperature drop from what the local ground currently suffers. This might even draw in wet airs and provide condensation if engineered wisely.

        I'm thinking mushroom farms. For "vegan" fake meats and other healthy options. Also something like guinea pig farms supping up the surplus mushrooms. Maybe even worm farms, earthworms, for chicken and fish farms.

        The solar power itself could be fairly cheaply exported as petrol, made from CO2 and H2O so the petrol engine becomes essentially carbon-neutral. Sure, it's a horrendously inefficient process to build octane from sunlight but the sunlight is, once the farm is built, essentially free. Less than free as the *shade* makes money for the farmers.

        No "oil States". No oil drilling, ever. The end of OPEC.

        Loads of benefits.

        Hell, they could even let some light through in patches and grow gherkins and hemp.

        Or genetically engineered apples that make insulin or statins for us.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lets do the maths

    A basic solar set up you'll need about 4 of these microinverters. (solar goes in, 120 or 240v AC comes out, they detect the mains, and sync to it, for on-grid solution, you just string them together and connect them direct to the mains via a cutoff). Each takes 4 solar panels: $216*4 + cabling+ power cutoff, say $1000.

    https://sea.banggood.com/th/1200W-Smart-Solar-Grid-Tie-Micro-Inverter-GTB-1200-Microinverter-For-On-Grid-Solar-Power-System-Home-p-1701654.html

    You'll need 16 solar cells (4 panels x4 micro inverters), I can't find them on Banggood, but I suggest the 350W panels, they're usually under a dollar a watt now and usually made by Risen. Overspec them a little to max them out for more hours a day.

    https://en.risenenergy.com/index.php?c=show&id=624

    About $5000.

    A typical house with aircon is 25Kwh, that's fine for tropics with plenty of sun.

    You need steels, and expansion clips and so on, but the builders will tell you not to waste money on expensive speciality fitting rails and so on, because they're shit and no match for welding steel frames.

    So we're looking at say, $7k to give you the benefit of the doubt.

    So, your plan is to launch that into space lets say, you have save HALF the number of solar panels by doing that, getting three time the solar for each panel and losing some in the transmission, so about $3500s worth of solar panels and kit saved, and with the other $3500 you plan on launching these panels up into space, together with a microwave transmitter, and maintain those for the 20 years, and run the groundstation, and all the aeronautics.

    Can you launch and install a payload like that with $3500? No, it wouldn't even pay for a tiny part of the fuel used to launch it.

    So there is zero chance that such a system could ever be competitive.

    USA can't even maintain a space station without Russian help. And pretending you can build solar in space when you can't build solar competitively on the ground is laughable.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Lets do the maths

      You're just repeating the article author's point : it ain't happening.

      Smashing piece, BTW. I'm keeping this as a reference on the subject.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lets do the maths

        Indeed, smashing. Justification was spot on, a way more straightforward that in the original piece. No need to think about cooling towers of Babel, nor giant tennis racquets to fight asteroids.

    2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Lets do the maths

      USA can't even maintain a space station without Russian help.

      They very nearly didn't have a space station due to Russian "help".

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Lets do the maths

        > They very nearly didn't have a space station due to Russian "help".

        Wouldn't be the first time: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/magazine-36549109

    3. Persona Silver badge

      Re: Lets do the maths

      A typical house with aircon is 25Kwh, that's fine for tropics with plenty of sun

      Solar is great ..... in low latitude where the main power need is for aircon in summer. In high latitudes like the UK where there isn't much domestic aircon due to the climate it's not so great. The UK needs power most in winter, when it's cold and the sun is weak and low in the sky, often behind clouds, and only above the horizon for 8 hours a day.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Lets do the maths

        "Solar is great ..... in low latitude where the main power need is for aircon in summer."

        And in such climates, there are usually better ways of dealing with the problem than bruteforcing it with cooling systems (sunshades, solar thermal chimney ventilation systems, etc) and many of the older effective methods have been in use for centuries

        "The UK needs power most in winter"

        Yup, and when gas/oil heating is banned, you can essentially double (or more) the grid's TWh supply requirements (and as much again for electric vehicles)

        As I keep pointing out:

        if you go all-out and plough in trillions, renewables (and other alternatives) can slightly outproduce existing conventional carbon-emitting power generation, but that only accounts for around 1/3 of all carbon emissions - switching the other 2/3 over to electricity (it's the only practical source for most tasks) will require a generation capacity increase (TWh, not peaks) of around 6-8 fold in developed countries AND provision must be made for the same generation levels in developing countries

        You can invest all you want, renewables can't fill that gap - especially when you factor in distance limits on electrical transmission due to line losses (meaning that "solar panels in the Sahara" is impractical for transmission to neighbouring African countries, let alone Europe)

        We _HAD_ safer nuclear power systems 50 years ago (much safer(*) than water-moderated and those are 300,000 times safer than coal), but development was killed in favour of oil and weapsonsmaking (Richard Nixon, 1972). Thankfully the tech has been revived and a 100MWe pilot plant is due for commissioning in China this decade. Global leadership has usually been based around resources/technology - cheap energy in the last 200 years - and China looks to be the superpower for the 21st century because they'll both build it AND provide it to developing countries

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Lets do the maths

          "renewables can't fill that gap - especially when you factor in distance limits on electrical transmission due to line losses (meaning that "solar panels in the Sahara" is impractical for transmission to neighbouring African countries, let alone Europe)"

          Actually, high-voltage transmission can work economically over thousands of km. The world's longest active powerlines are over 2000km ( https://www.power-technology.com/features/featurethe-worlds-longest-power-transmission-lines-4167964/ ). 2000-odd km from the nortwestern Sahara (northern Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) gets you to the approximate latitude of Paris. In practice you would have a bunch of undersea connectors connecting to the European grid all along the coasts of Spain, France and Italy.

          Similair for Mexico / southern US to Northern US / Canada

          So yes, renewables can most certainly fill a huge patr of that gap. Of course it would need to be combined with upgrades to grid technology, huge storage arrays etc.

          Modern, safe nuclear power as a baseload / backstop is a possibility, one other is to combine traditional oil / gas turbines with carbon capture and storage. Currently CCS is still very expensive, but so is (AFAIK) building nuclear power plants, especially in more safety-conscious countries (although I am too ill-informed to be able to make a comparison between the 2)

          1. tyrfing

            Re: Lets do the maths

            None of those lines go underwater. Underwater power transmission is its own special hell.

            If you avoid underwater then you end up going around the Mediterranean through some very dodgy territory and increasing your distance by a large factor - probably well beyond the current (ha!) record.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: Lets do the maths

              If you avoid underwater then you end up going around the Mediterranean through some very dodgy territory and increasing your distance by a large factor - probably well beyond the current (ha!) record.

              As well as the practical problems of doing that, you'd also have the economic. So every country the cable passes through being a load that needs to be managed, and probably also expecting transit fees. So the losses would be horrendous both in terms of power & money, and it still wouldn't solve the problem of making solar panels work in the dark.

              (Spain did however briefly solve that problem)

              1. jmch Silver badge

                Re: Lets do the maths

                "If you avoid underwater then you end up going around the Mediterranean through some very dodgy territory and increasing your distance by a large factor"

                It would be insane to go through Libya, Egypt, Middle East - just go through Morocco and across (under) Gibraltar strait to Spain. That will increase length, but not to more than 2000km.

                "As well as the practical problems of doing that, you'd also have the economic. So every country the cable passes through being a load that needs to be managed, and probably also expecting transit fees. So the losses would be horrendous both in terms of power & money"

                Loss estimates for long distance power transmission is in the range of 8-10%,which is more than offset by the gain in efficiency of having panels in Sahara vs Western Europe. Cost... Maybe, but for such a project I suspect companies could get EU subsidies to upgrade their grid in exchange for cheap passage. Ultimately we've all got to accept that ultra-cheap energy was a thing of the past (and was only cheap in cash but very costly long-term in unaccounted externalities)

                "still wouldn't solve the problem of making solar panels work in the dark"

                Molten Salt

                1. HelpfulJohn

                  Re: Lets do the maths

                  ""still wouldn't solve the problem of making solar panels work in the dark""

                  Well, pair the Sahara farm with one in the Pacific, or perhaps two at 120 degree intervals so that the Sun never really goes down on the complex. We know how to build things that float, we've been doing this for a while.

                  If it's a global initiative anyway, we may as well make it a real one.

            2. Stoneshop Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Lets do the maths

              None of those lines go underwater. Underwater power transmission is its own special hell.

              NorNed, the Nemo Link and the Western HVDC link, among others, would like a word.

            3. HelpfulJohn

              Re: Lets do the maths

              Wiring around the Med. is a problem for another reason, the place is slightly prone to earthquakes and volcanism. Indeed, the sea itself will eventually be smooshed by Africa. This may take a while but the ongoing rumblings caused by Africa's attempt to merge with Eurasia could be unsettling and disruptive to any long-distance technologies.

              Sure, short-term, we'd probably get away with it but should we not be be becoming a mature species who can think on the long-term?

          2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

            Re: Modern, safe nuclear power as a baseload / backstop is a possibility

            It's utterly essential, and let's not kid ourselves otherwise. There is absolutely no way at all that renewables could provide the kind of steady baseload most countries need to operate normally.

            Even technical issues of ultra-long-distance transmission could be solved, we're still talking about an unprecedented level of international cooperation to ensure the power flows unhindered. Just imagine the political leverage over countries whose power flows through yours... no nation would ever submit to such risks.

            The only realistic option is local generation, perhaps trading across immediate borders with neighbouring countries. Therefore that local generation needs to be constant, reliable and fully adequate for current and future needs, lest the natives start getting tetchy after a few weeks of rolling blackouts and being unable to wash their laundry or take a shower when they dare to want to (the end game for so-called smart meters... far cheaper and easier to get the public to pay through increased bills for their own personal remote off switches than have the utilities actually build enough generating capacity).

            1. AdamWill Silver badge

              Re: Modern, safe nuclear power as a baseload / backstop is a possibility

              "There is absolutely no way at all that renewables could provide the kind of steady baseload most countries need to operate normally."

              Er. There's a reason the power company where I live is called B.C. *Hydro*.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Modern, safe nuclear power as a baseload / backstop is a possibility

                How much hydro do you think you'll have after the current dams silt up and the greenaholics refuse to allow more to be built?

                1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                  Re: Modern, safe nuclear power as a baseload / backstop is a possibility

                  jake, you live in California, you should know better. In dam country, dams are a religion. Thou Shalt Not Question Dams. Nothing ever goes wrong with dams.

                  (I'll also note the original poster wrote "in most countries". There's a reason why hydroelectric isn't the dominant source of electrical generation in most places. The Hydro-Quebec objection is cherry-picking.)

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: Modern, safe nuclear power as a baseload / backstop is a possibility

                    And note that not a single person answered my question about the elephant in the room.... what happens when the hydro dams silt up?. Whistling past the graveyard, that lot.

                    We all need nuclear plants, and we need them yesterday.

              2. Geez Money

                Re: Modern, safe nuclear power as a baseload / backstop is a possibility

                That's a very niche solution that BC can do because it's a province with less population than most cities and incredibly high quantities of inland water. Hydro doesn't scale because there are finite good Hydro sites, even fewer if you consider environmental impact. Just look a little East to Ontario Hydro where they'd dammed everything including the Niagara back when, and by this point are primarily nuclear to meet capacity.

                It's sort of like geothermal, there are places it's a great solution but there's only so much to tap and many places have none available. It doesn't mean they can't help but they can't be the answer.

                1. AdamWill Silver badge

                  Re: Modern, safe nuclear power as a baseload / backstop is a possibility

                  On the one hand, sure. On the other, this is why people who talk about renewables emphasize a *mix* of them. Yes, if you isolate any *one form* of renewable power it can never be a magic bullet everywhere. But it's pretty rare for any place to be unsuitable for *any* of them. If hydro's no good, solar or wind or geothermal probably will be.

                  To put it another way: it seems to me the most interesting and productive conversations around power generation should almost always be around the huge opportunities that exist to drastically increase the share of renewable power in the mix just about everywhere. But it's noticeable that in threads like this, someone always wants to redirect that conversation to be about how we can't make absolutely everything run on renewable power absolutely all of the time, so we must instead talk a lot about nuclear or natural gas or something. Even if we can't get to 100% renewables 100% of everywhere, there's a hell of a lot of ground to make up between whatever the numbers are right now, and the realistic optimums.

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    Re: Modern, safe nuclear power as a baseload / backstop is a possibility

                    Here in California, where folks have been brainwashed into clamoring for no-nukes and more renewables since the late 1960s, we are at about 14% Solar, 5% Wind and 11% geothermal, biomass etc, So roughly 30% so-called "renewable", after almost half a Century ... and ALL of the good locations are already filled, so adding more capacity of any great size is unlikely.

                    The rest of CA's electricity is about 47% natural gas, 11% hydro and 9% nuclear, plus a pinch of miscellaneous imported power that might realistically come from any type of generation facility on any given day.

                    No new hydro plants are due to go online, and the greenaholics are going to do their best to never allow them again. Seems that rhe damming of rivers is evil. Some of the dams are already silting up, suggesting that line of power will be going away relatively soon. There goes 11% of our total power.

                    California's one remaining Nuclear plant (at Diablo Canyon) is closing down in two stages, in 2024 and 2025. There are zero new nuclear plants coming online (even in the planning stages) in California, so there goes another 9% of our total power.

                    That's 20%, or one fifth, of California's power going to evaporate in the next couple years, with absolutely no plans to replenish it. We are already having rolling brownouts and blackouts in some parts of the state. And now the fucktards in charge want everybody to drive electric cars that are charged by plugging them into the grid? And of course with the global warming we'll all be using more air conditioning ... and refrigeration of food.

                    Fucking brilliant lack of planning. The idiots in charge couldn't organize a piss-up in a brewery ...

                  2. Geez Money

                    Re: Modern, safe nuclear power as a baseload / backstop is a possibility

                    Couple issues:

                    The original context was renewables that can produce reliable/predictable/steady output. And no, mixing them up does not guarantee that, there is also no guarantee (as you claim) that any particular place is suited to any, and even if it is there's even more so no guarantee that any given place is suited to a mix of any 2-3. I never said to not use any renewables if they make sense, but that's not the discussion.

                    Nuclear is more sustainable than several of the things you have called renewable and provides a baseline load, why would you not discuss it?

                    Name a single place of significant population that has managed to accomplished your theory? Many are trying: California, Germany, much of the European North, and yet none of them has even sniffed a reasonable outcome yet. At what point do you admit that maybe the mix we have isn't the right mix and we should keep looking instead of obstinately pushing forward and yelling down anyone who points out the many, obvious flaws at play?

                    There is actually much less ground in many places between realistic optimums and current deployment than you claim. In fact some places already exceed their reasonable resources on certain renewables (solar in Germany says hi).

                    Lastly, I suggest you look into the actual environmental impact of some of the stuff you're pushing for when compared to alternatives. Photovoltaics and solar concentrators not only emit more carbon than nuclear by a good amount, but the range of carbon emissions per unit of power generated actually overlaps with natural gas slightly. "Clean" gas plants, as much as I would never advocate for them, really perform similarly carbon-wise to made in China solar. Wind does somewhat better on the carbon front, it's almost comparable to nuclear and even varies less.

                    Nobody doesn't want clean, renewable power, but pushing for broken technologies just to be able to say you did is not the way.

          3. Persona Silver badge

            Re: Lets do the maths

            Actually, high-voltage transmission can work economically over thousands of km

            It can but the efficiency isn't great and there are other problems. Any outages could be very very bad. Another way to transmit the power is as chemical energy. Have the solar farms in the best global locations where it is vastly more efficient. As you get electricity far cheaper than in bad locations you can afford to "waste" some to make it transportable. Use the electricity to electrolyse water and combine the hydrogen produced with C02 captured from the air, or more practically from sea water, to make methane. Effectively green carbon neutral natural gas. Now ship that around the word with pipelines and Liquified Natural Gas tankers just as we do with fossil natural gas. Pump it into the UKs existing gas storage and transmission network and use it to generate carbon neutral electricity, or burn it in our existing gas central heating boilers to give us the carbon neutral heating we desire.

            At the end of the day it works out about a trillion pounds cheaper than the current proposals to completely change the country's power infrastructure.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Lets do the maths

              I've always been fond of the "generate electric in the Sahara and use it to reform hydrocarbons on the coast" blue-sky proposal myself (as I dare say I've posted before).

              I don't think CO2 capture from the atmosphere scales, though. (I mean, yes, it does for green plants, but not for this purpose.) And seawater doesn't look like a much better solution to me. I'd suggest shipping organic trash to the reforming plant -– it'd just be going to landfills or incinerators anyway – and reducing it to mostly carbon.

              And I'd reform it into propane, not methane. Less to worry about a leak because propane is heavier than air so you can build capture-and-evacuate systems for it more easily, and methane is a potent GHG so a leak would have bad publicity.

              We already have a good global propane delivery-and-storage network which just needs building up as we scale this process up; and it's easy to convert gasoline (petrol) engines to use propane, so the market for it can expand quickly. Lots of propane-consuming appliances are available at various price points, from household to industrial. Most "natural gas" appliances can be retrofitted to use propane. It's kind of a sweet spot for a hydrocarbon fuel.

              1. ciaran

                Sustainable Aircraft Fuel

                Its tough to make airplanes run off electricity, so there are various plans to make liquid fuels from renewable sources. Airbus talks about it here...

                https://www.airbus.com/newsroom/news/en/2021/07/Power-to-Liquids.html

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Sustainable Aircraft Fuel

                  "there are various plans to make liquid fuels from renewable sources."

                  Shouldn't be all that difficult ... people have been making ethanol at home for thousands of years using plants as the raw material. Bee spit has also been used as raw material, but that gets a trifle spendy. Tasty, but spendy.

              2. Geez Money

                Re: Lets do the maths

                You can't reconstitute to propane in one shot, the point of reconstitution to methane is that you can then produce any hydrocarbon fuel that exists from it, including propane (and jet fuel and gasoline, etc). This is a deeply studied area.

            2. David Hicklin Bronze badge
              Joke

              Re: Lets do the maths

              Then kill 2 birds with one stone - Gibraltar Straights Barrage Dam.

              OK, It will mean moving a lot of stuff to fill in the deep bits but that solar power can power a lot of conveyor belts

              Then you will have both a dam creating electricity and a dry overland route for the HV AC power lines to Europe

              1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge
                Holmes

                Re: Lets do the maths

                I vote for an 8 mile wide rickety wooden canal-style lock.

        2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Re: Lets do the maths

          Wish I could upvote this more than once.

        3. AndyFl

          Re: Lets do the maths

          I did the maths and built my home off-grid in Shropshire. Yes, you can generate enough power from solar to run the home. In my case just under 10KWp and 10KWh LiFEPO4. I get all the required power for the home including water heating. End of December is a bit tight as I really need another 30KWh of batteries but I currently bridge that with a generator I pull out a couple of times a year.

          I even run an EV off it with only occasional visits to local chargers.

          Heating is a little more difficult at the moment and I use a small log burner (4KW) with locally sourced wood. I could mostly avoid that with better home insulation but I'm a little stuck there. Alternatively I could replace my solar panels with more efficient one and get an ASHP. Project for a couple of years time.

          1. Geez Money

            Re: Lets do the maths

            Solar water heaters are like 4-5x as efficient as solar panels in converting sunlight to energy, add the fact that your electric water heater will have even more losses and the gap starts to push toward order of magnitude. They're also cheap and simple devices. If you swap to that you'd not only take a big load off your electricity supply but you can also potentially later circulate the water for heating with any number of methods.

            Just a thought.

            1. AndyFl

              Re: Lets do the maths

              I considered doing that but excess power can be useful for other things than heating water which would not be an option if I used solar thermal panels. The heat pump has a COP of about 3 and can raise the water temperature to my desired temperature at any time when I've got enough solar across the entire array rather than being limited to a few solar thermal panels.

              The numbers would stack up in a different way on other installations, what works for my situation isn't guaranteed to work for other installations.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lets do the maths

          The problem with renewables - wind, solar, even hydro - is the time averaging required.

          "Germany's Uniper feeds wind power-to-methane into gas grid" - Reuters/2019.

          The great thing about methane is that it the current storage and transport for natural gas can be reused for methane. There is currently enough storage for several months worth natural gas usage. More than enough to satisfy the time averaging. It can also be transported anywhere, just as natural gas is exported, in the same shipping vehicles and ships.

          Ah ... but natural gas is cheaper than converting power-to-methane. Well, duh. But the climate is not in good shape is it? Renewables are subsidized, Telsa is subsidized, so why not power-to-methane?

          And still nuclear can not pay for it's own insurance - the government has to be insurer of last resort, the same in the EU, UK, USA, and Japan as far as I know. So that is subsidized too (think about millennia of waste storage too.)

        5. HelpfulJohn

          Re: Lets do the maths

          I'v been saying it for decades: nukes are the greenest form of power we'll have this side of the next Millennium.

          Sure, fusion would be marvellous but fusion is fifty years away according to those working in the research and it has been fifty years away for seventy-odd years. Fusion will *always* be fifty years away.

          Meanwhile, nukes are cheap, easy to build, maintain and run if done properly, safe, clean and have fuel enough to run our kit for centuries at least, longer if we ever mine asteroids and Mercury.

          Sure, we've had a couple of bad accidents with nuclear plants but those were never the fault of the technologies. One was badly situated and the other was poor management. Overall, nukes have been tremendously safe for fifty years and more.

          And the problem with spent fuel rods has an obvious solution: radioactive shit emits energy, so use the energy. Eventually, all nuclear stuff decays to stable isotopes. Nuclear power plants encourage this, accelerate it, makes radioactive stuff safer, faster.

          It's *green* power. Nuclear power makes the universe safer, forever.

          Nukes are protecting the fluffy bunnies.

      2. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Lets do the maths

        Here in Valencia, Spain, I am totally off grid, I have a 12panel, 8Kwh system that provides all I need with a margin.

        Three times as much, mostly to run AC is bordering on the criminal, then the same people sitting in front of the AC moan about governments not doing enough about climate change and blaming those governments for the forest fires.

        Don't forget to down vote!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lets do the maths

          Yeh I'm not happy about AC, I've been researching but don't have a solution yet.

          If it wasn't humid, (like the desert dry heat, maybe like Valencia?) I'd be tempted to put that compressor cooling element into a big tank of water*, dump the heat into it during the day and use that "stored heat" feature during the night. Assuming you have the two way cool/heat AC heat exchanger.

          Instead of blasting the heat out into daytime hot air, then trying to pull heat out of cold air at night, store it during the day in the water. Take the heat out during the night.

          * Maybe even the reserve water tank, that is insulated, and has 500 litres in it, it would be a little weird to have hot water out of the cold tap, but then the water heaters would be redundant, and the drinking water is filtered /cooled anyway.

          Or a 2000 litre septic tank (obviously not the actual septic tank, a septic tank especially for this purpose filled with water and perhaps radiator additive). I think, since I cannot guarantee the heat exchange balance over the short term, the more water the better.

          But its too humid and I do not use the heating on the A/C.

          I see there's a bunch of "breakthrough in low energy AC", but when I research it, its just a fancy chemical heat dump. So why not use water?

          What do you store the electricity in? I have 28Kwh of Litto Kalla Prismatic cells, to be installed for one of my properties, I know its dumb ass overkill, I might take half of them when I do the next one. I've looked at more green solutions, like a tower water tank, but they've made it so easy to just plug an go with lithium batteries, it was far far cheaper just to go with the off the shelf.

          The other thing, I assume you get lots of mosquitoes and bugs and cannot simply open all the windows and use fans. If Bill Gates had ever gotten the laser mosquito zapper working, or someone had invented a nice zapper that doesn't block the airflow, then a lot of energy could be saved at night simply by opening the doors. Fly screens just don't let enough airflow through.

          Musk has something coming in HVAC, so maybe he's going to try something.

          1. Chris G Silver badge

            Re: Lets do the maths

            Humidity in Valencia in summer varies between the low forties and the nineties ( about mid eigthies today).

            I use lead acid traction batteries, cheap, last longer than you think and recycling is old hat.

            I have a British guy who specialises in them and works all over the world with them.

            Recycling lithium is harder and so for not efficient.

            Lots of mossies here but no problem with air movement and bug screens, plus I have been in Spain almost twenty years now, I am probably acclimatised.

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: Lets do the maths

            Look into Ground Source Heat Pumps and siblings. Has been working for my HVAC and hot/cold water needs (including ice, refrigeration and freezers!) for almost two decades now, with no real sign of wear and tear on the components.

            Maintenance includes changing filters as needed (pressure difference between sides of the filter sets off the appropriate alarm), and the ice-maker gets cleaned out quarterly (not strictly needed, but it's easy, so why not?).

            It runs on solar, with no mains connection needed. I swapped out the old batteries (third set), solar panels and associated electronics for a LiFePO system about two years ago. The new "extra" electricity runs the lighting in the house, with a transfer switch just in case I have a need to run it on mains power.

            Note that I did almost all the physical work, which cut my total costs quite dramatically. Its not all that difficult if you know which end of a screwdriver to hang onto, and how to read the instructions.

            The entire system (less power upgrade) paid for itself in about 12 years, initial set of batteries included. Break-even (including battery changes), about 15 years. The new LFP system should be paid for in a couple years, after that I'll probably have 10 years of hassle-free, no-cost HVAC and refrigeration before the next battery change.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Lets do the maths

            "I'd be tempted to put that compressor cooling element into a big tank of water*, dump the heat into it during the day and use that "stored heat" feature during the night."

            You just invented the heart pump!

            "I assume you get lots of mosquitoes and bugs and cannot simply open all the windows and use fans."

            Screens work great (at least for me), especially if you help the airflow with fans. If your house was designed for passive cooling instead of assuming you have AC, thats even better.

        2. hoola Silver badge

          Re: Lets do the maths

          What do you use for energy storage etc?

          The big problem with AC and cooling is the same as heating in cooler climates. YOu can do all sorts of funky things with new builds BUT that is not the problem, it is all the existing buildings that cannot be upgraded due to the design or construction.

          Some might be fixable but the costs are astronomical so it is not worth doing and the alternative of pulling all the old building down and replacing them is equally unviable.

          That said there are loads of houses built in the 1970s to early 2000 that are just appalling. The problem is that the house owner cannot afford to demolish and start again and the Government is unlikely to throw money at the problem in the form of grants because is will be so disruptive.

          Then you have all the stuff from the 50s and earlier without any form of insulation or cavity walls. Pretty much there the only option is to start again so you are back to square one.

          1. Charlie van Becelaere

            Re: Lets do the maths

            "Then you have all the stuff from the 50s and earlier without any form of insulation or cavity walls. Pretty much there the only option is to start again so you are back to square one."

            I don't know about that. My 1920s home is actually very well insulated and requires very little cooling help in Summer - especially with a large-ish tree out front shading us much of the day.

            The steam heat through radiators is surprisingly efficient (and comfortable) and we've had several tradesmen warn us against getting anything new to replace it (barring a total breakdown or other disaster) as nothing around is nearly as good. I don't know that they're correct, but I do like my utility bills being as low as they are (relatively speaking, of course).

            At our latitude, solar is only an option for Summer bonus energy.

          2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: Lets do the maths

            Ironically, yer late Victoria terrace is much easier to manage heat/cold in than modern tacky Barratt Boxes.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Lets do the maths

              Indeed. It's comfortable downstairs for around 3 days of daytime temperatures in excess of 30 degrees C... after that the brick walls have warmed up and can no longer pull the heat out of the air. The trick is to get a big through-flow of cooler air overnight to hopefully pull as much heat out of the bricks as one can. The warm air rises up the stair cases, though, and the temperature in the bedrooms can get unbearable. The dark slate roof doesn't help - I'd happily swap them for ultra-white ceramics, if it wasn't for being in a conservation area. :(

          3. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: Lets do the maths

            Then you have all the stuff from the 50s and earlier without any form of insulation or cavity walls. Pretty much there the only option is to start again so you are back to square one.

            I've lived in a house built in the first decade of the 20th century. No cavity walls, but the previous owner had put panelling on the inside, although only for the living room downstairs. It was some easy-fit system with large panels, so taking it down, putting insulation behind it and fitting it back was no big deal. The upper floor was more like an attic, with the actual walls ending a meter over the floor level, then a steep tiled roof with the top being nearly flat and tar-paper covered. The first floor had as good as no insulation, only hardboard panels against the inside of the roof to keep things from getting too drafty. Fitting rockwool with panelling over it, sitting between the roof beams and against the front and back walls did wonders for the energy bill and the comfort level (as did replacing the central heating boiler and the flash heater in the kitchen). Also, double glazing in the living room windows. Probably a mediocre improvement by today's standards, but a huge step up from what it was.

        3. xyz

          Re: Lets do the maths

          Here in Catalunya, I'm off grid and run just 4 panels for everything. I dont have AC though as my walls are 70cm thick and so is the roof.

          Can't they just dangle a big cable off the IIS.. Oh yeah, i remember, the tether incident.

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Lets do the maths

        > The UK needs power most in winter

        Probably not for much longer, climate change may resolve that problem.

        A couple of years back when due to the Gulf stream's position the UK didn't get its usual dose of weather from Siberia, resulting in mild temperatures and little rain, so the winter clothes stayed n the closet..

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Lets do the maths

          Due to climate change and convection in the oceans changing, I read an article that posited the possible reversal or disappearance of the Gulf stream.

          That would leave the UK in a much colder state even with global warming.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Lets do the maths

            Yup, the amount of fresh water pouring off Greenland is having a major impact on the Gulf Stream. It has already slowed down. If it switches off, the UK will get much colder winters.

      4. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Lets do the maths

        too bad you can't turn "bad weather" into a power source...

        A lack of reliable sunlight DOES improve the argument for fission, eventually fusion, hydroelectric, and the more traditional carbon and hydrocarbon generated electricity (and heat for homes). Because giving up winter home heating is unacceptable.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Lets do the maths

          You mean like wind and rain? (Rain for hydro, shame most of the UK isn't suitable for much hydro (unless we do some major blasting and digging in National Parks.)

      5. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Trollface

        The UK needs power most in winter,

        So? Just run an extension cord from Orstraylia.

        1. the Jim bloke Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: The UK needs power most in winter,

          we're running it to Singapore instead, at least they can afford to pay for it.

    4. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Lets do the maths

      Can you launch and install a payload like that with $3500? No, it wouldn't even pay for a tiny part of the fuel used to launch it.

      So there is zero chance that such a system could ever be competitive.

      They're not really meant to be. Don't confuse science/engineering with marketing. So there's been a lot of lobbying around 'Nett Zero', decarbonisation, subsidy farming and virtue signalling.

      Sadly for most of humanity, there's been a lot of traction. So we're going to ban fossil fuels, gas heating and cooking and everyone will go all-electric! Which of course means either massively reducing the amount of energy we use, or increasing the amount we generate.

      Politicians are kinda, sorta, slowly stumbling towards the realisation that this could be a problem. See also the UK's Ofgem announcing £150+ electricity bill rises blamed on everything but the true cause, ie 'renewables'.

      So to support Nut Zero, taxpayers will need to give generously. Very generously. There's only so much money governments can print without rampant inflation, and energy costs are a fairly key component to inflation given it's an input cost to pretty much every economic activity.

      So politicians, most of all probably have no idea how to change a lightbulb think 'renewables' are the solution. Done lots of those, energy bills keep rising. But no matter, throw some more money at the problem and it'll be find. 5MW windmill isn't exciting, 150GW solar panels in space, well, now we're cooking on photons.

      And if say, you just happen to own a company that makes solar panels, satellites and launches stuff. Well, hand over the money, and Elon will save the world! Possibly after he's figured out just why suggesting an air hockey table in a vacuum would never work. Ah, Hypeloop..

      But back to the article-

      Heat, now that's a problem. 150GW deliverable power is a beast. Do the sums on conversion efficiency for gathering solar electricity and turning it into radio waves,

      Actually, heat's a potential solution. Just need enough earthstations and the receivers would become the world's largest communal microwaves. Just the thing when your gas cooker's been made illegal. And like (or unlike) other large solar projects, there'd be less problems with 'streamers', and having to collect cooked birds. They'd probably just explode instead.

      But.. slight snag with RF heating outside a vacuum.. Like it heating the atmosphere. Rather hard to avoid at those power levels, eg microwaves meeting atmospheric water. Which may have some positive advantages, like becoming a collosal ozone generator. Or the heating acting as a vortex or storm generator so 'extreme' weather events can be created on demand. Would also be rather handy for making reality match other climate model predictions, like ocean heating, arctic & glacier melting etc etc

      But such is politics. TL;DR, it's just another part of the scam. Hand over a few hundred million (or billion in the case of carbon capture & storage) and keep taking the money for as long as clueless poltiicians hand it out.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Lets do the maths

      "Can you launch and install a payload like that with $3500? No, it wouldn't even pay for a tiny part of the fuel used to launch it."

      While I fully agree with your point, it's worth noting that the latest solar panels going into space are roll out ones on telescopic arms. There's also "paint on" solar panels although I'm not sure if they are viable at scale yet nor whether they have any hope of working in space. Also, I've no idea of the power to weight ratio of these other technologies. Either way, I doubt they are going to be economical for beam transmission any time soon.

    6. adam 40 Silver badge

      Re: Lets do the maths

      There's another argument too - currently the energy input to solar cells is only just above the lifetime energy output.

      If you are flinging them off into space (with inherent transmission losses) then you are still inputting the energy up front ON THE EARTH and then getting it back later.

      so - no overall gain, and a massive pollution bill a.k.a. carbon emissions.

      BTW, not to detract from your maths, but I just put together a solar installation at home where the microinverter is per panel, and I paid £45 for secondhand panels and £25 for the microinverter.

      So far I can get about 120W per panel @240V, for £60 outlay = 1kWh on a good day. But - only when it isn't cloudy. Still learning about how to get the most out of this stuff.... so far it just about powers my WFH computers....

  6. tojb
    Childcatcher

    Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

    It is pretty easy to show protein unfolding from ultralow 5G-like irradiation:

    https://journals.aps.org/pre/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevE.103.042416

    harm from this type of effect is slow to manifest and won't show up on cultured neurons in a petri-dish after half a day, you need to irradiate a large population of human beings for a period of years in order to have an epidemiological datapoint sufficient to alter public policy (remember, literal megadeaths were needed to shift attitudes in relation to atmospheric pollution from domestic coal burning). If you can be bothered understanding the science however, you will prefer to let that epidemiological datapoint be someone else, preferably a long way from your house.

    In the cited paper calculation matches experiment in unequivocally showing undesirable effects, but notice how they don't mention "5G" in the abstract because scientists don't want the fuss of robofetishists and techno-utopians uniting to call them out as cranks and crazies. Such people won't bother getting on sci-hub to download the full text so Singh et al can harvest a moderate number of citations, and say "I told you so" in a few years, all without being accused of rocking the boat.

    1. Art Slartibartfast
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

      Ehmmm... 5G uses mostly the same frequency spectrum as 4G and WiFi have been using for years. So what makes 5G different? And yes, there is also a mm-wave variation above 24 GHz that is not deployed yet.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

        I'm not going to sympathise with 5G wingnuts, but one point to bear in mind is that western RF limits are based on heating effects

        1960s-70s Soviet research into weaponisation of RF resulted in a much reduced long-term field strength exposure limit for frequencies above ~1.5GHz

        HOWEVER: 5G and even wifi exposure levels are still well below those limits unless you're silly enough to wrap your hand around the antenna (at which point you'll exceed the limit around your hand only). It takes several watts and a highly directional antenna to exceed the Soviet limits even at 1 metre and a lot more to exceed USA(western) safety limits.

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

          > 1960s-70s Soviet research into weaponisation of RF

          1970s? It's ongoing in Cuba, according to some reports.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

          If anyone's deeply interested: https://inchem.org/documents/ehc/ehc/ehc016.htm

          As noted in the paper, most real-world exposure is less than 10uW/cm^2, whilst effects testing was done at 1000 times (or more) this level

          1. tojb

            Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

            @Alan Brown, you can find no evidence of risk through heating or ionisation as much as you want, that says nothing about risk from protein unfolding. Expecting DNA damage from THz radiation is obviously never going to happen. Protein unfolding diseases are subtle, nasty and above all *slow*.

            I'm taking a risk commenting as the inchem link won't load, but if it is anything like the two or three other reviews listing no harm caused by obviously-harmless means then it is a dead letter.

      2. tojb

        Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

        @Art Slartibartfast

        As you said, "mostly". The IR-ish, millimetery, version was shown in the paper to couple to biomolecule dynamics. Disordered excitation of these frequencies is just heat, thermal vibration, not a problem; however pumping a single mode disproportionately strongly can break things.

    2. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

      I am doubtful, the use a good amount of simplifications in their simulations.

      It would be much better to irradiate these aminoacids in the lab with real radiation to check what is actually happening.

      Hugely simplified simulation says X seems a pretty weak argument IMHO, however, I should point out that I do simulations for work (albeit in a much different field), so I am skeptical about all simulations.

      1. tojb

        Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

        They also include experimental Raman data, and yes it was very important to do the whole experiment as well as just the calculations.

    3. Irongut

      Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

      I don't need to read sci-hub because I'm a radio engineer, among other things, and if 5G had undesirable side effects we'd have been experiencing them with 4G and various other technologies for decades now. Since there is no evidence of that, you and your wacky luddites and stagnation-fetishists (see I can make up words too) are wrong. No boat rocking required.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

        "if 5G had undesirable side effects we'd have been experiencing them with 4G and various other technologies for decades now"

        Exactly this.

        Also ionising radiation: If it was as bad as is made out, aircrew would be dropping like flies

        For your amusement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRL7o2kPqw0 - quite a punchline at the end

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

          "quite a punchline at the end"

          One might say "Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it!" ...

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

        >5G had undesirable side effects we'd have been experiencing them with 4G

        But what if delusions about 5G are a symptom of 4G exposure?

      3. tojb

        Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

        Protein unfolding with (weak) radiation requires hitting a resonance, so precise frequency band matters. New spectrum regions around the THz are being opened with 5G. "I don't need to read the evidence because I work in a field that has remarkably little to do with biomolecule dynamics".

        1. Fred Goldstein

          Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

          No, 5G isn't about THz. Such frequencies don't go far and don't penetrate anything. 5G is simply a modification of 4G LTE to enable wider speed and frequency ranges. In the US, T-Mobile calls its 600 MHz network 5G, though it works almost exactly like a 4G network (the software module APIs in the Core are partitioned differently). The highest frequencies used are around 28 GHz, for some Verizon and AT&T sites, but those too are extremely range-limited, though they're fast if you're within about 100m or so and have visual line of sight. Basically optimized for football stadiums.

          All of the bullhockey about 5G radiation harm ignore details like radiation level. The sun shines RF on us too.

          1. tojb

            Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

            @Fred Goldstein:

            I know its not really about THz, sorry I was just using the term loosely as "between microwave and visible". The experiments showing destabilisation of lysozyme were done at 10GHz and 8e-7 V/m. The reason that the range-limited hotspot-type networks you talk about provide such terrible penetration is that these frequencies couple not to chemical excitations (they are not ionising radiation) but instead to vibrational modes of molecules, so meat or anything wet absorbs them strongly, arguably they should be referred to as an extension of the infrared.

            In disordered form this type of radiation is just heat, so the only problem is feeling warm, however irradiation at a well-defined spectral window (as opposed to the flattish spectrum of the sun) can drive organised vibrational excitations leading non-covalent assemblies to break up, typically in a way that is reversible but nonetheless far from ideal.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

              "I was just using the term loosely"

              There's a lot of that going around ... Perhaps talking about things one understands instead of things one thinks one knows (based primarily on videos from that side of youtube) would put an end to this particular epidemic.

              1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

                Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

                I'm in violent agreement with you jake, and that doesn't happen often :-)

              2. AndyFl

                Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

                Completely agree with you. People watch a few YouTube videos from dubious producers and claim they know about RF SAR limits, ICNIRP and all the rest.

                Some of us have been designing RF stuff for 40 years and had to do real measurements and analysis to ensure it was safe to use. Multi-GHz stuff has been around for a long time. If there were any serious issues we would have pretty clear evidence by now.

                I'm seeing anti-5G signs around Craven Arms at the moment because there is a proposal to put a site in the town to improve the crap cellular service. I've given up pointing out that a strong signal makes the handsets drop their power which is much more significant than that of the tower 100m away. I've been told I don't know what I'm talking about whilst they watch videos from the same people who do Free-Energy machines.

                I swear we are all doomed!

              3. tojb

                Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

                I've tried very hard not to call people ignorant in the course of this thread, unless its really been rubbed in my face - perhaps consider doing the same? If you believe it would be easy to know as much as me, then consider showing it by making an intelligent response. Also, ask yourself what kind of person reads past the abstract in Phys Rev E articles, which are not general physics but specialist literature in soft matter / biophysics.

                In the title of the paper they call it 'microwaves' which is too vague for my taste, as that is often used to mean anything from kHz to GHz. Technically we should call the upper end of the 5G spectrum "SHF" or "EHF" however nobody uses those designations, so THz in my opinion is fine although yes, it is not quite a whole THz.

                1. Stoneshop Silver badge
                  Facepalm

                  Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

                  the upper end of the 5G spectrum "SHF" or "EHF"

                  Stupendously High Frequencies and Exorbitantly High Frequencies; everybody know that.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Joke

          Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

          > Protein unfolding with (weak) radiation requires hitting a resonance, so precise frequency band matters

          Fortunately, all the protein in my body is safely wrapped in a thick layer of fat.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

            >Fortunately, all the protein in my body is safely wrapped in a thick layer of fat.

            Except your eyeball, which is why you have to be especially careful of your eyes when working with high power RF

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Casual reference to 5G sceptics as 'wingnuts': author already is on wrong side of history

              That's OK, the beer goggles cover that problem.

              For splinters, I use and recommend Bugz.

              Note that they aren't a Faraday cage, so be careful out there!

    4. DS999 Silver badge

      Whenever I hear these lunatics

      I think back to a woman who claimed to be "electrosensitive" speaking out against a new LTE tower located 1/4 mile from her home, who claimed she had no end of problems since it was erected.

      The only problem with her claims was that due to delays from the utility it was still waiting for power to be run to it, so it was completely inert thus demonstrating the effect was solely in her imagination.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Whenever I hear these lunatics

        But the antennae load was installed so her electric waves were being sucked out of her and into the tower - thus disrupting her aura

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Whenever I hear these lunatics

          Shirley all those crystals turn her Okra into a shield against all that kind of stuff?

          Or was that Buckra? This type all look the same to me ...

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Whenever I hear these lunatics

        Same thing happened in Santa Clara County over an early Cell tower.

        The protestors observing in Court (North County, Palo Alto) were said to have slunk out with their tails between their legs when their poster child for the evil affects of the cell tower was so thoroughly debunked by $TELCO's lawyers ... late '70s or early '80s or thereabouts.

        The more things change, the more they stay the same.

      3. tojb
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Whenever I hear these lunatics

        Handy isn't it that having heard that anecdote somewhere saves you the trouble of making a critical assessment of the science. https://journals.aps.org/pre/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevE.103.042416

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Whenever I hear these lunatics

          Just because you can see some type of measurable effect doesn't mean it is permanent or negative. Where are the double blind studies showing it is a problem? We just have people making claims, and pointing to the occasional study like yours that does not make any claims of permanent or even temporary damage.

          If I hold a magnet to my skin it has a measurable effect on my cells. That doesn't mean the magnet is harmful.

          1. tojb

            Re: Whenever I hear these lunatics

            @DS999 >> Where are the double blind studies showing it is a problem?

            Valid point, but on the other hand, the benefit of the newer higher-frequency bands is highly marginal, giving higher bandwidth (requiring higher wattage) in a small open-ish area only per station. Do you care that much about watching HD holovid on your phone while stuck in an airport? Can't just read the paper, or watch regular HDTV?

            Why aggregate proteins, stressing peoples metabolisms and giving a tiny number of them some nasty amyloid disease? These things are subtle, slow, and only fatal after a 5-25 year lag. It is just isn't worth waiting to find out. If we look at the risk factors for amyloid disease, junk unfolded protein lying around is a big one. Either it aggregates itself, or it overloads the so-called JNK pathway which is responsible for clearing stuff away. The linked article is one of many looking at interaction between insulin and ABeta via the JNK pathway, I've just brought it in as an example of what I'm talking about https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnagi.2017.00118/full

            1. DS999 Silver badge

              Re: Whenever I hear these lunatics

              Those high frequency bands will only be used in limited circumstances, to cover very high traffic areas like stadiums and very dense urban settings. Your exposure to them would be limited, you won't be exposed 24x7 while sitting at home like you are with current cellular frequencies.

              They also have very little penetration ability, even leaves will block them so your skin let alone skull would be enough to prevent them from reaching your brain so no need to worry about amyloid proteins. You can't use them indoors, even if you live across the street from a mmwave 5G antenna it won't enter your home until you open a window and stand in a direct line of sight. Even then probably not, as it would likely be aimed downwards to where the people on the street are - high frequencies are very directional.

              1. tojb

                Re: Whenever I hear these lunatics

                Great to hear someone who will look at the physics. Lets put numbers in, field strength to observe a harmful effect from the paper was 8e-7 V/m.

                Take the attenuation coefficient as 100 /cm (order of magnitude for water). Start with field strength 5V/m (handset near head). That gives a depth of order millimetres (follow exponential absorbtion F/F_0 = exp( - mu * d ), d works out as 15.8mm in order to observe the harmful effects documented in Singh et al (probably why they picked the field strength they did).

                Average adult male skull thickness is 6.5mm, so you are looking at getting into brain even before thinking about reduced absorption for bone versus soft tissue or bulk water. Bear in mind that most of you is near/at the surface: people are really pretty small and funny-shaped.

                1. tojb

                  Re: Whenever I hear these lunatics

                  OK, so nobody cares about the numbers, they'd rather believe that there is no effect after 2-3mm skin. I wonder why I bother.

                  For the contention that absorption is too high for these things to be used indoors, or near trees, or whatever I have to ask then what would be the point of them in that case? I suspect that near-THz 'hotspots' will be used indoors in large venues like airports or bullpen-like offices, callcentres, trading floors etc, where they are overlooking crowds of stuck people. It seems like that is what they are for, although some gee-whiz tech companies are promising high bandwidth (but high latency) outdoor vertical communication to a satellite network I'm hoping that the '5G' part of what they advertise is just pure marketing.

                  1. DS999 Silver badge

                    Re: Whenever I hear these lunatics

                    Yes the antennas will be located high "above" in most cases, aimed downwards so that people's own bodies aren't blocking the signals. Trees aren't really a problem because the sort of places where you'll need mmwave don't tend to have any trees - at least I don't recall seeing a lot of big trees in Times Square, Piccadilly Circus or stadiums. Central Park won't have mmwave 5G not only because all the trees would make it pointless, but because while there are a lot of people there they aren't all packed into one place, and probably care less about getting high speed cellular connectivity.

                    They are selling people 5G based on speed because that's how the telcos have pushed all previous upgrades. Its like how Intel marketed on MHz even after CPU speed stopped mattering to most customers. Unless you live in a larger city, you will likely never even see a mmwave 5G antenna except when you travel - there's no point to them except in areas where many people will congregate and overwhelm the available bandwidth of traditional cells. Also because in order to actually deliver high speeds to a lot of people at once you need a fiber backhaul with many gigabits of capacity. No one is going to install that in the suburbs, let alone rural areas, when it will never be needed.

                    1. tojb

                      Re: Whenever I hear these lunatics

                      Sure, but some of the people who are stuck in crowds are stuck there every day. For a small number it is 24h.

                      Waving this away as only hurting city folk, commuters, stockbrokers and the braying herds is selfish, and I hazard a guess symptomatic of someone who has been working at home in a leafy village for a while: Boring Lives Matter is a slogan I am now going to adopt, it has the advantage that the T-shirts are already made.

  7. Alan Brown Silver badge

    The effectiveness of such a device...

    ...as a power delivery system - is directly proportional to the effectiveness of the same device as a weapon

    For that reason alone even if it was actually practical, nobody would want something like it in orbit

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: The effectiveness of such a device...

      For that reason alone even if it was actually practical, nobody would want something like it in orbit

      Not quite true. Everybody would like to have one in orbit that they have control of. Just nobody else should have one...

    2. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: The effectiveness of such a device...

      Wasn't there a disaster scenario in one of the SimCity's, where the power beam got unlocked from the receiver, and strayed around the city leaving a path of destruction?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: The effectiveness of such a device...

        And I believe there was also a similar plot in Thunderbirds. Both old and new.

        1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: The effectiveness of such a device...

          Issac Asimov got there first.

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: The effectiveness of such a device...

            Yes, we need a team of robots controlling the beam station developing a religion where keeping the beam exactly on target is the prime directive - and hope they don't develop Lutherans.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: The effectiveness of such a device...

              Oh, I dunno .... it'd be kind of fun to read a robot's version of "Ninety-five Theses", don't you think?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The effectiveness of such a device...

        Yes. Microwave oops.

        I think it was in SimCity 2000.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tesla scams.

    Sadly anything these days name dropping Tesla is either a scam or a whacko conspiracy.

    Just Google "Voltbox" for an example.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Tesla scams.

      Yes, I saw those being advertised on the Guardian website at one point, via a third-party adslinger of course - dropped their ad team a line, not seen it since. I find it massively depressing that you can punt a 21st century version of a perpetual motion machine without going immediately to jail for fraud.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Tesla scams.

        I ran my electric bike out of battery, and needed to call for a tow to the closest charger.

        The tow truck driver asked why didn't I put an alternator on the wheel so I could charge it while I rode.

        Yeah. There's the American school system for you.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Tesla scams.

          >Yeah. There's the American school system for you.

          When your best and brightest, most educate citizens are driving tow trucks

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Tesla scams.

          The tow truck driver asked why didn't I put an alternator on the wheel so I could charge it while I rode.

          Some guy living nearby in Germany (but originally from Poland IIRC) postulated something similar when he visited our hackerspace a few years ago. "Just put dynamos on the wheels of a car to charge batteries, which you can then use to light your home in the evening". He could also not see fault with perpetual motion machines "that could be seen working in YouTube videos".

          Even the concept of conversion losses was unknown to him.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Tesla scams.

            Did you explain to him that, in effect, EVs DO have alternators in the wheels? ie regenerative braking. It's a shame they can't physically be made to be better than 100% efficient. Ye canna break the laws of physics!

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Tesla scams.

              "It's a shame they can't physically be made to be better than 100% efficient. Ye canna break the laws of physics!"

              In fact, they can't even manage 100% ... Entropy says no.

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: Tesla scams.

                >In fact, they can't even manage 100% ...

                Which is why you put 2 regen brake generators on each wheel then they only need to be 51% efficient

            2. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: Tesla scams.

              Did you explain to him that, in effect, EVs DO have alternators in the wheels?

              Vehemently no; we wanted him to get out of our hair (and lair) as quickly as possible without resorting to violence, so any info that he could have misinterpreted as "See, it can work (and thus, it will)" was out of the question.

              We stuck with demoing a bike dynamo, and that even with no load but the dynamo engaged the bike wheel stopped quicker after giving it a shove, and that the dynamo got warm when actually loaded. "That is energy that has been put into the dynamo, but is not coming out as electricity. That bit is what's called conversion losses, and every bloody process that converts energy from one form into another suffers such losses. Hence, a perpetuum mobile is impossible"

              This also reminded me of someone on a computer forum who had tried to get his UPS to provide longer runtimes by plugging its input into one of its outputs during a power cut. Alas, the UPS runtime got abruptly and markedly shorter instead.

        3. jake Silver badge

          Re: Tesla scams.

          Not just American. It's common world-wide, alas.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It costs about £500 to install a square metre of terrestrial solar array. Alert me when the cost-to-orbit of a square metre of solar array hits £5,000 and we'll consider the issue again.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Call me when the political donations to get the permits for 1km square km come down to $50M

  10. Alan Brown Silver badge

    “I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are good people and bad people.

    You're wrong, of course.

    There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides.”

    ― Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!

  11. Kane Silver badge
    Coat

    ...not just because of how wild it would drive the 5G wingnuts, who go batty at a few milliwatts...

    You missed a trick there. Should have said "battery" instead.

    I'll just leave then, shall I?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: who go batty at a few milliwatts...

      Do NOT attempt to start an electricity based pun-run on el'reg.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: who go batty at a few milliwatts...

        It would be elexcruciating

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: who go batty at a few milliwatts...

          Don't resist, we have the capacity and won't choke.

          1. Kane Silver badge

            Re: who go batty at a few milliwatts...

            You guys would just run circuits around me if I attempted it.

  12. jollyboyspecial Bronze badge

    Those conspiracy theorists who claim that Tesla successfully developed wireless power delivery but was silenced also claim something else even more ridiculous. The story going back all those years was that Tesla was not only going to deliver power to homes without any cables, but he was also going to do it for free.

    Yep that's right not only did Tesla manage to come up with a way of transmitting power that nobody has managed to replicate, but he cam up with a way of generating power at zero cost. Well when you think about less that zero cost. After all building his transmission towers an generating infrastructure would have come at considerable financial cost, plus of course the cost of ongoing maintenance.

    Now the first time I heard that particular nonsense it came from somebody who told me the 100mpg carburetor story. If you don't know that one it's another American crackpot theory. It goes that somebody invented a new type of carb that would enable a big American V8 to achieve 100mpg. All a carburettor does is turn fuel into aerosol to mix it with air. Almost any carburetor can do that to the most efficient ratio when properly set up, But even with a properly setup carb an old American V8 (this story dates to some time around the 1960s) is such an inefficient design that no matter what carburetor you fit to it you are looking at a tiny fraction of the supposed 100mpg claimed. Oh and not only did the fuel companies kill off this miracle carburetor. According to the myth the fuel companies somehow bought up the patents and disappeared them.

    And there are more. Did you ever hear the story of the hundred year lightbulb? It's great conspiracy theory/urban myth where somebody managed to buy up and disappear patents. And once again not only did somebody manage to design a lightbulb that would last 100 years according to the myth it was much more energy efficient and unsurprisingly it would have cost a fraction of the cost of a traditional tungsten filament bulb to manufacture.

    That's the trouble with all these conspiracy theorists. They start out with an idea that might just be plausible at first encounter and then add more an more implausibility to it until nobody in their right mind could possibly believe it.

    But hold on, what if all the extra implausibility was added by THE MAN in order that nobody would ever believe it?

    1. jake Silver badge

      "If you don't know that one it's another American crackpot theory."

      Nope. Charles Nelson Pogue was Canadian.

      "Did you ever hear the story of the hundred year lightbulb?"

      Over 120 years old, you mean. I've seen it in person. Here's it's webcam.

    2. Bitsminer Silver badge

      the 100mpg carburetor story

      Actually, I think it went like this:

      The special replacement carburetor improved gas mileage by 40%.

      The oil additive improved mileage by 20%.

      The high-pressure tires improved mileage by 30%.

      Special spark plugs added 20% more mileage.

      The car caught fire and burned after the fuel tank overflowed from 110% efficiency.

      YMMV.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: the 100mpg carburetor story

        ITYM 262% efficiency.

        1. Keven E

          Efficiency issues

          Can't we focus parabolic mirrors to solar panels and increase electric output from each square *foot?

    3. MonkeyCee

      Cartels

      "Did you ever hear the story of the hundred year lightbulb? It's great conspiracy theory/urban myth where somebody managed to buy up and disappear patents."

      It's more the lightbulb companies getting together and deciding to all deliberately reduce the life of their bulbs. With fines paid by companies making longer lasting products to other members of the cartel.

      Designed obsolescence is nothing new, you don't need any sort of conspiracy for that.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Power generation in space wont help our power needs.

    As mentioned in the article, if you start beaming gigawatts of energy down from space, that is gigawatts of energy added to the ecosphere whichi sn't exactly a good thing when your stated objective is to help reduce global warming.

    I can remember reading articles about this idea back before there was much concern about climate change, in the 70s. I remember thinking back then that beaming large amounts of power down from space probably wasnt a good idea mostly due to the potential for abuse, sabotage or accident. However, the idea was not to ship solar panels into space, but to create large solar furnaces and use their heat to produce steam to drive turbines to generate electricty, turn it into microwaves, beam.. etc. And the bulk of the materials wasnt to be sent up from Earth, but instead mined and refined on the Moon.

    Trying to create any orbiting power station capable of producing typical earthbound power station levels of energy i a mugs game, with current or forseeable technology never mind that its a bad idea in the first place. But getting industry set up on the moon and using that to create space based solar power stations to provide power for space-based industry makes a lot of sense. lifting 10 tons of payload from the surface of the moon to anywhere in cis-lunar space is a LOT easier and cheaper than lifting ten tons from the surface of the earth.

    In summary, solar power generation in space is a good idea - but NOT for solving our energy issues here on Earth.It's best used to power industries moved off-earth in order to reduce the amount of pollution and greenhouse gas produced here.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Power generation in space wont help our power needs.

      Careful. When I intimated that idea in another thread I got a load of downvotes

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Power generation in space wont help our power needs.

      Actually it all depends on conversion eiificiencies. If your main ineficiency is the solar panels its maybe better to have them in space where they can radiate the lost heat away.

      Given the requirement of X terawatts of power on earth needed anyway, that (nearly) all ends up as heat eventually, it makes little difference whether you burn coal oil gas or uranium to get it: you are adding to the sum of earths total heat anyway.

      (I am not consdering renewable energy, because it cannot produce the X terawatts of power on earth needed anyway, without needing as much in its construction deploiyment maintenance and balancing)

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Power generation in space wont help our power needs.

        it makes little difference whether you burn coal oil gas or uranium to get it

        If you only take the immediate energy balance into account, no. But that's ignoring the effect that CO2 has in trapping infrared that would be radiated out into space, keeping it down here instead. And thus increasing the energy imbalance.

        Never mind that you don't burn uranium.

  14. Imhotep

    I've Seen A Lot Of Ot, Hot Blazes Come Down To Smoke And Ash

    How about giant mirrors to deflect and focus sunlight to earth stations for conversion to electricity?

    That ought to address the heat and cold problems.

    Since I just propose policy, it would be up to the engineers to address a few niggling problems that occur to me.

  15. The Kraken

    Oh great, let's microwave the earth... did anyone mention global warming ?

    1. itzman

      Re: Oh great, let's microwave the earth... did anyone mention global warming ?

      The answer is simple. Heatpumps will cool the citries, and circulate the working fluid to mountain tops where extremely hot heat exchangers will radiate earths surplus heat to space.

      What do you mean that's what clouds do?

  16. The Kraken
  17. JohnG

    Ant City, IRL

    Whenever I hear talk of ideas like this, I am reminded of Ant City

  18. scubaal

    and of course.....

    why?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    orbital solar power at such a large scale would only increase the heating of the earth atmosphere, which is is already warmer than usual because the solar energy which had been bound over million of years (in coal & oil ) is now being release almost at once (in a geological timeframe).

    Orbital Solar Power plants should be used only to power orbital or lunar industries.

    and maybe to decrease the amount of solar energy reaching ground.

    Venus should be warning for us.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      and maybe to decrease the amount of solar energy reaching ground.

      We should just fit a handbrake to the moon, and pull it at the next solar eclipse.

  20. itzman
    Boffin

    The difference between a scientist and an engineer

    Is that teh scientist has this Geat Idea, and announces it to the world 'it Could Work!' while the engiuneer grabs his slide rule or equivalent, starts calculating costs efficiencies , automatically thinks of safety, and worst cases and concludes 'No, it's worse then the mousetrap I already have' and goes back to reading 'Biggles'

  21. Binraider Silver badge

    I fag packeted some calculations on the basis of Starship's lifting capabilities; current hi-spec solar panels versus the cost to bill-payer of Hinkley Point (est. in excess of £100bn).

    The final stats for starship are of course, unfinished, but targetting the region of $10 / kg. That is an awful lot of tonnage of solar panels you can fly for £100bn; MUCH more generation than what Hinkley Point is going to deliver for that bill. Cutting out many of the middlemen and overheads associated with a Nuke project versus a microwave and I personally think there is a reasonably compelling case for on-orbit generation.

    Other obvious problems to manage would be carrying large quantities of current (and cooling) on a very large solar satellite to an antenna (probably Microwave frequency), cooling for your antenna, and constructing receiving stations.

    Plus sides of this design - if there's an excess of wind in one area, but shortfall in another - point the antenna and problem solved.

    I'd develop the idea myself but it takes more than a mere engineer's income to make pie in the sky into reality.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      To keep the space solar panels over a single point it needs to be in GSO.

      This limits you to points near the equator

      One of somerset's few natural disadvantages - is it's not in the tropics

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Flame

        Somerset

        One of somerset's few natural disadvantages - is it's not in the tropics

        Be glad; if it were you Englishmen would shortly fall victim to the mutating properties of the >750THz radiation you would be experiencing there in quantities you'd be unaccustomed to, making your skin turn red and in a matter of days fall off.

      2. Binraider Silver badge

        Or, you could have multiple arrays and change target periodically as the satellite orbits. Doesn't have to go all the way to GSO.

  22. aelfheld

    "It all started with Tesla – Nikola, not the car company – who got fixated on the idea at the start of the 20th century and built a giant tower to test it out. He spent all the money and never made it work, although his disciples still cling to the wreckage. Not that anyone has learned."

    There were numerous eye-witness accounts of wireless power transmission in Tesla's New York City workshop. Wardenclyffe was an experiment that perished due to lack of funding.

  23. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    Oh look. Another "new tech" that will be undoubtedly presented with the aide of a professionally produced video, possibly with state of the art graphics to a few venture capitalists, eventually producing nothing because what they are offering is not possible, but they'll only discover that by either reading some physics books or spending tens (if not hundreds) of millions on development. It will undoubtedly be supported by a group of fans who fall in love with the idea, and will defend it vigorously, frequently decrying those who just want to see a bit of evidence it works as "haters" or luddites who object to or are frightened of new technology.

    See Solar Roads, Batteriser (a product that was supposed to drain batteries more efficiently, thus getting more life out of them) and hyperloop as technologies that, IMO, will ultimately fail, and (again) IMO, are designed purely to attract investment rather than produce anything useful.

    I am one of those who want to see evidence that new technology works, but am frequently dismissed by fanbois as some sort of luddite. I really am not.

    .

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