When one looks at the heavens above us, at its utter vastness, you can not help but be humbled by its glorious potential. Whether its exploiting asteroids or water ice, one can only imagine the untapped resources just waiting at humanities finger tips.

One resource that seems to be on every ones mind is energy. With the cost of fuel accelerating faster than the rate of inflation, individuals, companies and governments are turning to fresh alternatives to power our rowdy planet.

Recently the US government has taken a fresh look at the possibility of constructing solar powered satellites (or SPS), which would be able to collect energy from the sun and beam it down back to Earth. If doable, these power stations would be able to deliver unlimited energy in a clean, efficient manner (provided the sun does not explode of course).

While launching and building one of these satellites in space may have its own engineering and problems above, constructing the receiving rectenna on land may provide even more nightmares below. In order to avoid these concerns, scientists may want to consider building a solar satellite rectenna over the ocean instead of on top of land.

In order to receive energy from our celestial star, solar powered satellites have to be able to safely convert the energy they collect from the sun and transmit it into microwave radiation. But in order for the entire system to be profitable, the rectennas have to be huge, (about 14 kilometers) in order to be competitive against the fossil fuels that we heavily depend upon.

In order to avoid ugly fights over property rights, some have suggested that these rectennas be built over remote farmlands, with the intention of avoiding major population centers. While this idea may sound wise, farmers will probably not be thrilled with some government object hindering their view of the sky, and express their disappointment by filling the bottom of the structure with holes.

By constructing it over the ocean scientists would be able to avoid worrying about their pet project being attacked by rural neighbors, terrorists or kids pulling a cool Halloween prank. A remote location on the sea would make it harder for outsiders to tamper with the rectenna, which would lower the cost of insurance for the SPS.

Another reason why choosing water over dirt may be more logical can be summed up in one word–lawyers. In order for the government to actually build a rectenna over sovereign soil, they are going to need an army of lawyers, backed up by a literal army enforcing the law.

Despite the fact that the American government (like all governments) has the right to take away property from their own citizens, it does not mean that separating these citizens from their lands will be easy.

In order to avoid everlasting lawsuits, as well as rioting citizens, the government may want to choose building a rectenna on top of the ocean, as constructing in international waters may be easier than on national soil.

Last but not least, if the government (or any company with their blessing) is able to avoid the two former pitfalls, then they may find themselves suffering from the wrath of nature itself. Hail, tornado’s and violent thunder storms can easily damage an enormous rectenna at “the best” and partially reduce it into expensive rubble at the worst.

By comparison constructing a rectenna over a calm ocean (i.e. the Pacific) may avoid most of the weather fallout that asualts us land dwellers.

Even though solar powered satellites may be unable to satisfy the growing hunger of developed nations, they may be able to inspire our world population to go solar themselves. Combined with our friends in space, SPS’s and quality solar power on Earth could enable our species to live on this planet independent of the black gold that plagues our “tiny” world.

Note: Due to lack of time, images will be added later.

Update: Images (with credit) added to the post.

Share on Tumblr