Hydrogen economy and such
- Yep, we are in a state of denial about our global energy situation.
And it is no help that the price of fossil fuels will not suddenly go
up by a factor of 10 and shake the masses into a new course of
consumption. So the infrastructure of any "new system" that follows
will be evolutionary. "Evolution" is exactly the right word to use
here. Like Kevin said, it is unrealistic to expect a magic bullet
that will transform our energy use patterns into a sustainable
system. This would be like expecting a single cell organism to
evolve quickly into a dog. However, the true path of development
will not be as random as evolution. After all, we do have brains to
plan our path of energy evolution, right? But is that collective
brain one of truely forward thinking technologists or of the almighty
dollar? (methinks it is mostly the brain of the almighty dollar and
some of the forward thinkers) The road to sustainability will be
paved with its share of dead-ends, looks-good-but-turns-out-bad, is-
good-but-waits-for-complementary-changes, works-for-a-while, and is-
Any invention or system or idea for changing for the better will have
to pass the greed test. Recall 8-track and cassette, Beta and VHS,
and now DVD and VHS, CRT and Flat panel. Consumers will always
eventually side with the better/cheaper mouse trap. The
infrastructure will follow the dollars, too. This evolution will not
be accelerated to any historically noted degree by the desires and
urgings of visionaries or held back by the greed of a few. It will
take a steady course that is dominated by the limitations of the
resources and Joe-consumer's taking notice of Fred Smart's new
A hydrogen based economy is a great idea. I remember reading 25 or
so years ago from a very extensive study of how such an economy could
be realized in a book that I think was entitled "Hydrogenergy". From
what I can remember it was extremely insightful, adressed
infrastructure extensively, and would probably still be an excellent
As for the media's effect on our progress, I'd like to think that in
our society of intelligent consumers, rewarded for good choices and
penalized for bad ones, we mostly "buy" the truth and ignore the
My suggestion is to be the best consumer you can be. Occacionally
take chances on new products and invest in companies you expect to
turn the energy profit.
- Technical Feasibility of Space Solar Power
Summary of Statement of Ralph H. Nansen,
President Solar Space Industries
Before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics
September 7, 2000
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for inviting me here
today to testify about the feasibility of Space Solar Power. The last time I
appeared before this Subcommittee was in 1978 when I accompanied the
President of Boeing Aerospace Company to testify concerning the same
subject. At that time I was Program Manager for Solar Power Satellites for
the Boeing Company. Today I am retired from Boeing and am currently the
President of Solar Space Industries, a company I formed in 1993 to promote
the development of Solar Power Satellites. I also wrote an advocacy book
about Solar Power Satellites in 1995 titled, SUN POWER: The Global Solution
for the Coming Energy Crisis.
Much has change in the last 22 years since I was last here, but one thing
that hasn't changed is the fact that Solar Power Satellites are still not
under development. However, the time is now right for their development to
The studies conducted in the late 1970's determined technical feasibility
and the potential promise of Solar Power Satellites for delivering,
abundant, low-cost, nonpolluting electric energy to all the nations of the
world.. Studies since that time have reaffirmed this conclusion. In addition
much of the infrastructure that did not exist in the 1970's has been
developed for other programs, dramatically reducing the development costs.
A low cost reusable space transportation system required for space solar
power has not yet been developed. However, Solar Power Satellites would
provide a large enough market to justify its development.
The need to develop space solar power is becoming more apparent as we see
energy demand growing throughout the world, energy prices rapidly
increasing, oil reserves dwindling, and the threat of global warming. Space
solar power can solve these problems.
A potential interim step is transmitting energy from one location, that has
excess energy capabilities, to another location on the earth by reflecting a
wireless power transmission beam with a relay satellite in geosynchronous
orbit. Because the relay satellite would be light in weight, it could be
launched with existing expendable launch vehicles.
One of the key issues before us today is what should the government be doing
about space solar power. The development of the system should primarily be a
commercial development, however, because of the size of the program required
and the international implications it should start as a government/industry
partnership. The primary role of the government would be to provide
leadership and seed money to initiate the program, coordinate international
agreements, support the development of high technology multi-use
infrastructure, establish tax and funding incentives, and assume the risk of
buying the first operational satellite.
Industry can provide most of the developmental funding and be responsible
for the design and development of the system. It is essential that the
satellites and the space transportation system be developed in a commercial
environment if they are to be viable commercial ventures.
The following steps by the government would bring this about.
1.. Assign a lead agency within the government. The Department of Energy
is the logical lead agency with NASA providing the primary technology
2.. Fund a Ground Test Program to demonstrate the satellite functions of
power generation, the wireless power transmission system, and integration of
the energy into a utility grid. This program would also demonstrate the
capability of relay satellite power transmission.
3.. Obtain frequency allocation for wireless power transmission.
4.. Pass commercial space tax incentive bills, like the Zero Gravity, Zero
5.. Incorporate testing for solar power satellite technology into the
plans for the International Space Station.
6.. Continue technology development for reusable space transportation
7.. Consider the implementation of loan guarantees for commercial
development of reusable space transportation systems.
8.. Commit to the purchase of the first operational Solar Power Satellite.
With this plan implemented the commercial industry would have enough
confidence to proceed with development. Most important of all is the fact
that whatever nation develops and controls the next major energy source will
dominate the economy of the world.