By 2035 onwards, the moon will be turned into a source of renewable energy if plans by a Japanese firm pushed through. Shimizu Corporation, a Tokyo-based construction firm said that their proposed “Luna Ring” could produce 13,000 terawatts of power every year which is way above what the U.S. is producing at the moment of 4,500 terawatts of energy. For Japan this could mean freeing the country’s dependence on nuclear power. The firm said that they will construct solar panels 6,800 miles around the moon for this project.
The “Luna Ring” project will involve mining the surface of the moon for materials that will help manufacture the solar panels. The panels will be laid around the equator of the moon like a belt and this would be 250 miles wide. The energy generated by the panels will be beamed back to earth to be captured by receiving stations by way of microwave or laser transmissions.
Shimizu Corp. believes that with this project it will shift human’s dependency on limited source of power to “unlimited use of clean energy.” Although details of the “Luna Ring” are still sketchy as of the moment but the company said that it will immediately commence by 2035 once funding are fully complied with.
The use of alternative energy is gaining ground in Japan following the 2011 tsunami that exposed the danger of nuclear energy when some of the country’s nuclear power plants were destroyed by the giant waves and safety measures were breached.
Since the project will be done outer space, robots and other automated equipment will be utilized like mining the surface of the moon for materials, concrete production as well as the construction and installations of the solar panels. Humans will be involved by way of supervisory functions.
Last May 2012, Japan was forced to temporarily switched-off the country’s 50 functioning nuclear reactors for maintenance checks and other safety precaution measures. This left the populace to bear the summer heat due to the calls of the government to economize on the use of electricity. Once the nuclear reactors are switched-off one third of Japan’s sources of energy are gone.
Until the deadly tsunami that hit the country destroyed the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant which today is considered a worse accident than the 1986 Chernobyl, Japan was fully dependent on the power generated by nuclear energy.
To offset the decrease in the source of power, Japanese authorities were forced to look for alternatives like oil and gas-based power generation. And since Japan lacks the natural resources to support the production of these types of energy, the country was forced to get these from elsewhere resulting in a $100 million per day extra cost that made an impact in its annual trade deficit. Many are also on the opinion that these types of energy sources contributes to the increase in carbon emissions.
This led the government of Japan to target by year 2030 a 25 percent to 35 percent power generation coming mostly from renewable energies like solar, wind and hydro. But before all these projects can be accomplished, experts believed that Japan must first overcome realities like stifling regulations, the huge costs of building these renewable energy projects and other man-made and natural obstacles. For now, it is safe to say that the Japanese firm have enough time to think things through to convert the moon as a source of renewable energy and to see if this is really possible.
By Roberto I. Belda