10 October 2010

New Ideas Regarding Space Based Solar Economics

How big is the market opportunity for Electrical Power of the next two decades?  Huge!
From: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/us-china-energy-partnership-can-create-jobs-in-both-countries-104405788.html
Jim Rogers of Duke Energy recently spoke at the Wilson Center, introducing a new report by Garten-Rothcock.  The report can be found here: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/events/docs/Anatomy%20of%20a%20Partnership%20Report.pdf 

Of note, presently some Chinese utilities are expanding at 30% a year.  Last year China spent $35B on electricity.  But the future is more extreme.  China and the US together represent 42% of global energy consumption and are the two largest emitters.  Though they use it differently (80% of power in China is used for industrial application, whereas 70% is used for residential commercial in the US), both are very dependent on coal for electrical power (50% in the US and 80% in China).  But by 2025 China will have added 40B square meters of floor space, 5000 buildings...the equivalent of two Chicago's!  Of 61 Nuclear reactors being built worldwide, 24 are being built in China.

Over next 20 years, US will spend $2.1Trillion and China will spend $3.1 Trillion in the power sector!  While China must build new infrastructure as 700M people transition from rural to developed lifestyles, the US will have to recapitalize a tremendous amount of its aging infrastructure.  Rogers predicted that by 2020, one third of all US coal plants will be shut down by EPA regulation, and by 2050 ALL US powerplants with the exception of hydro dams will need to be replaced.   While Rogers was dissapointed that there was not yet a price on carbon, he felt that regulation of carbon was inevitable, and that they were making 50-yr decisions today based on the assumption that Carbon will be regulated.  "Only technology will solve the problem in the long run."  A positive point about international collaboration is that regardless of where the materials for such major power infrastructure projects are sourced, 70% of the jobs created are in the localities of the project, not a the source.  Rogers also said that while the real cost of power had remained low for decades, that the future price of energy would be increasing for a number of factors (cost of new infrastructure, renewables, and CO2 costs).

A total $5.2Trillion over 20 years is a lot...and that is not counting India, ASEAN, Africa....
"RWE, Germany's biggest power company, estimate in an internal study that Europe will require a staggering €3 trillion ($4 trillion) of investment just to convert its power generation to green energy." (http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,718951,00.html)

Now SpaceWorks Engineering presented several SBSP papers a the recently concluded 61st International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Prague.  Significantly SpaceWorks provided an initial economic analysis of what we call a SSP First Revenue Satellite (FRS). This was for a non optimized system and can be applied to other 5-10 MW class SSP systems. It gives the outline of what SpaceWorks thinks is a more achievable near term operable demonstrator of SSP that is developed and purchased on government dollars and turned over to operators.

Not surprisingly, for a first demonstrator with existing launch systems, the economic bar is too high for profit and revenue outside of a PPP where the government pays for the Development and Testing, and acquisition.  Here are the papers and presentations.

A Rational Roadmap for Developing a First Revenue Space Solar Power Satellite

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