Articles

Energy Analysis of the Solar Power Satellite

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Science  03 Aug 1979:
Vol. 205, Issue 4405, pp. 451-454
DOI: 10.1126/science.205.4405.451

Abstract

The energy requirements to build and operate the proposed Solar Power Satellite are evaluated and compared with the energy it produces. Because the technology is so speculative, uncertainty is explicitly accounted for. For a proposed 10-gigawatt satellite system, the energy ratio, defined as the electrical energy produced divided by the primary nonrenewable energy required over the lifetime of the system, is of order 2, where a ratio of 1 indicates the energy breakeven point. This is significantly below the energy ratio of today's electricity technologies such as light-water nuclear or coal-fired electric plants.