Protection of the Environment through Power from Space: Science Fiction or Future Reality?
All energy sources on Earth — except the nuclear ones — derive their energy from the Sun. For comfort and a high living standard people need a considerable amount of energy. More than 80% of the World’s consumption of energy is covered by fossil fuel, a nonrenewable resource which will be exhausted in the long run. This will happen faster when and if the whole world population, on average, gets an energy standard similar to that currently enjoyed by the industrial countries. The need for replacement of a large portion of the fossil power may however come much earlier if it is finally proven without doubt that the anthropogenic greenhouse effect leads to a significant warming of the global climate — or if it is decided that, despite the absence of absolute proof, the risk of such global warming should not be taken. In that case the incentive strengthens considerably to develop alternatives, such as improved versions of nuclear power and, perhaps, photovoltaic power from Space. Nuclear power has its well-known problem of public acceptance. If that cannot be solved in a convincing way, the interest in the remaining possibilities will increase further with improving chances for power from Space. Although a majority of scientists seem to adhere to the belief that a future global warming of the climate will occur due to the anthropogenic emissions of the greenhouse gases and that action should be taken today to reduce these emissions, a minority of experts remain sceptical. Because of the importance for our subject of this question, we give below a highly condensed summary of the most relevant facts and judgments.
KeywordsGreenhouse Effect Science Fiction Power Conditioning Photovoltaic Power Future Global Warming
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