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Brent Sherwood, Monday, 8-3-15 August 4, 2015

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Brent Sherwood, Monday, 8-3-15


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Guest: Brent Sherwood. Topics: Space Solar Power (SSP), climate change, SSP demos, SSP economics. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm. For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.


We welcomed Brent Sherwood back to the show to discuss the rational, potential, and economics for the use of space solar power (SSP). During the first segment of our 1 hour 27 minute discussion, Brent first introduced us to Dr. David MacKay from Cambridge University who in 2009 was appointed Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Brent talked about Dr. MacKay’s book during our discussion, “Sustainable Energy-Without The Hot Air” which is available for free on the internet. You should follow along in the book with Brent’s discussion, especially in the first segment, as our guest referred to pages and visuals frequently. Check it out at http://withouthotair.com. Most of the first segment was spent using information from Professor MacKay’s book to explain the current energy and climate situation on Earth and to justifying moving away from petroleum, eventually to SSP. Brent talked about CO2, energy disruption, the transition to something other than fossil fuels, and how to develop SSP. Dr. MacKay used modeling for the UK which Brent referenced, especially from page 215 with the UK map. Brent then talked economics, again referring to the work by Dr. MacKay suggesting an SSP system costing $1.4 trillion! Spread out over a number of years, that price was not much different from what is spent on several government departments and policies, including NASA at this time. Brent listed several examples of this so don’t miss this discussion. Brent then suggested the least path of disruption would focus on the key which would have to be electricity. This took us to our next topic which addressed how to generate the amount of electricity needed, including his identifying several newer technologies that could lower some industry costs. He talked about some of the main challenges including transportation, storage, transmission, & operations. Later in the segment, Brent delved into the cost per kWh for electricity. Marshal called to talk about key new technologies including advancements in related and applicable photo voltaics and more.


In the much shorter second segment, Brent talked about macro engineering projects and huge platforms in GEO space. He said that such SSP GEO platforms would be around 7,000 sq. km. or three times the size of the paved U.S. national highway surface. Brent then addressed why none of this ever happens and he pointed to this not being a purpose of NASA as an example. To counter this, he advocated for a serious demo project, even suggesting the use of the ISS for the demo. Our guest talked about the challenge in attracting private capital to this because it is so futuristic right now. However, private capital has flowed to the futuristic industry of asteroid mining. We both asked why to one and not to the other? The last email question of the day was from Carol who pointed out that government policy to regulate coal and CO2 over 30 years is off point. Instead, government policy should produce a serious demo project that confirms the technology and the potential market, then let the markets and industry self-regulate and invest for the future.


Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog above. Brent can be reached through me if you want to contact him.


1. J Fincannon - August 6, 2015

Another thing he brought up was an ISS test of the power transmission system, since ISS had 80kW of power. Beamed power advocates always suggest ISS because it has lots of power. This power is in reality spoken for. So if experimenters want to test beamed power, they will need to either have energy storage or capacitors to accumulate enough energy to test it briefly, or just test a low power level.

2. J Fincannon - August 5, 2015

While I am inclined to like Dr. Sherwood, I found annoying the discussion of a number of the controversial CO2 issues. Focusing just on the space solar power beaming concept and architecture would have been necessary and sufficient I would have thought. Delving into the motivation of doing this based on the global warming agenda is irrelevant. Engineers will always come up with solutions, although they may cost too much to implement. But going into the messy CO2, sustainability and global warming issues makes taking the engineering concept seriously much harder. I think he made the point several times that nuclear power seemed to address all the CO2, global warming and sustainability issues, so the topic is finished, one would think. But I guess not.

Issues about the giant space solar power concepts (since the 70s with the SOLARES project) include maintenance (impacts due to debris and micrometeorites), being a target for rogue actors (launching a missile to shatter the giant power system seems all too easy), attitude control/orbit reboost of giant structures, weaponization, protection from solar and other EMP. These are many. Some have suggested placing the solar arrays on the Moon. These are nice dreams, but for the near term, nuclear seems the most practical method to maintain and improve society’s standard of living.

B John - August 8, 2015

Since the concept itself is completely nuts (beaming solar energy to Earth, J H Christ, the Sun is doing it already), I think it is most appropriate that the motive for doing it, is a fraud. There’s no global warming today, but maybe with his death star beams wasting their energy to heating the atmosphere, there will be. This is all so funny, and I appreciate that they get to say their piece, even if I don’t exactly agree or even can follow their line of reasoning.

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