This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

November 13, 2002

How About Solar Power on the Moon?

As if it isn't hard enough to install solar power systems on rooftops and in parking lots, a physicist at the University of Houston (UH) now proposes installing them on the moon! Estimating that the world could need as much as 20 terawatts of power by 2050, physicist David Criswell looked to the moon, which receives about 13,000 terawatts of solar power. The energy-hungry world of the future could receive its energy supply by harvesting just one percent of that energy, he says, envisioning massive banks of solar panels that beam their energy to earth via microwaves. Worried about the shipping costs? No problem: You make the solar cells from moon dust, says Criswell. And think of the advantages: no clouds, no haze—heck, no atmosphere at all to block the sunlight. Worried about those 15-day lunar nights? Again, no problem: Criswell proposes building solar bases on opposing limbs of the moon, as seen from Earth, to create a constant supply of solar power. See the UH press release and the author's article in the April/May 2002 edition of "The Industrial Physicist" (PDF 404 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

A technology team led by ENTECH, Inc. is preparing to study power concepts that are a bit more down-to-earth—but still not on it. ENTECH will work with NASA Glenn Research Center and Assumption School, both located in Cleveland, Ohio, to develop advanced concepts for generating power in space. ENTECH has already demonstrated a solar array in space that converted 27 percent of the solar energy striking it into electricity. The new team has been awarded $195,000 from the National Science Foundation and will develop a roadmap for developing solar concentrator arrays for use in space. See the ENTECH press release.