A Space Solar Power Industry for $2 Billion or Your Money Back

The latest addition to the NSS Space Solar Power Library is a paper by Al Globus, a member of the National Space Society Board of Directors, proposing a system of prizes to kick-start a vigorous space solar power industry. In recent years prizes such as the Ansari X Prize, the DARPA Grand Challenge, and the Google Lunar X Prize have all been successfully used to develop important technologies and even entire industries.

ABSTRACT: A system of prizes to develop space solar power (SSP) is proposed. If successful, a one or two billion dollar investment could kick-start a vigorous SSP industry, which in turn could provide humanity with essentially unlimited quantities of clean electrical energy. If unsuccessful, the money is returned to its source. The prize is structured to subsidize the construction of nine SSP satellites by at least three different entrants using different designs. The prize is aimed at developing small SSP systems delivering a few tens of megawatts to utilities on the ground. Under some reasonable assumptions, the prize money is sufficient to make one or perhaps two of the satellites profitable and provide a significant subsidy to the other seven. Once small SSP systems have been successfully developed, producing large systems that can make a real difference to global energy production will be much easier. While $2 billion is a great deal of money, should this effort be successful, it is reasonable to hope that Earth’s energy and greenhouse gas problems could be solved.

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