There is an energy crisis looming. Progress in coming up with a harmless energy source is too slow to give anyone peace of mind. The burning of fossil fuels continues to chip away at the planet’s already severely damaged atmosphere. People are banking on a sooner-rather-than-later solution to present itself. Scientists are exhaustively searching for a power source that could satisfy both the environmental and the (unavoidable) financial situation.
In the search for a way to ensure the continuance of life on Earth, all ideas are now fair game. Ideas that will make sci-fi buffs weep in awe.
Before Our Eyes
It would be no surprise to hear anyone from engineers to homeowners, from solar panel manufacturers to installers, say that the true solution to the energy conundrum comes in the form of those dark, gleaming, photovoltaic panels. The science behind it is solid, the practicality unparalleled, and the potential truly lifesaving.
Drawing power from the sun—that thing that’s up in the sky until literally the end times—is itself the stuff of medieval dreams. Adoption of the technology is rapid, but not rapid enough; which is why a single student suggests bringing adoption to a mandatory planetary/lunar level, and scientists are saying that it just might work.
Justin Lewis-Weber, a high school senior from California, recently published a proposal that says it is possible to outsource the placement of solar panels beyond Earth, specifically the moon. Since solar panels tend to take up space (the entire state of Nevada to power the world, to be exact), he proposed that the best way to provide electricity to the entire planet without having an entire time zone covered in panels and batteries is by transmitting them from space instead.
Lewis-Weber’s proposal is optimal in several ways. First, placing solar panels outside the atmosphere increases exposure to the sun by 27%. Second, there will be a near-constant stream of light, regardless of time of day. Finally, lunar solar panels will be able to self-replicate to drive installation costs down, at least according to Lewis-Weber.
Sending up a self-cloning array of solar panels, equipped with 3D printers and microwave power transmission, will not be an easy or affordable task. But, if covering the moon in solar panels can solve the energy crisis and other life-threatening crises along with it, people sure wouldn’t mind spending nights on Earth under the toasty electric moonlight.