This power idea is out of this world

It's one more plan to help keep greenhouse gases in check

The provincial government has from the outset touted liquefied natural gas (LNG) development as a way of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in global terms given it will replace coal and oil as a means of producing electricity in Asian countries.

However, a segment of the climate change lobby disagrees, maintaining that any development that produces GHGs is inherently evil and all new power sources should be 100 per cent renewable as in, for example, solar power.

In theory, assuming you ignore the impact on consumers of going for green purity, that lobby is not wrong.

For example, I read a while back that Japan could actually meet all its energy needs via solar farms.

However there was one not-so-little catch: they would have to cover every square inch of the country’s available land with solar panels.

I concluded, for obvious reasons, that would never fly.

So imagine my surprise when I stumbled across the Japanese construction and engineering firm Shimizu Corporation’s proposal to build 11,000 kilometres of solar farms.

How was that possible given the size of Japan?

The answer was that it didn’t intend to build this green energy giant in Japan.

Instead, its chosen location was, forgive me, out of this world – on the moon.

Shimizu proposes to build a belt of solar farms encircling the moon at its equator. The belt would initially be only a few kilometres wide but ultimately would expand to 400 kilometres in width.

All the construction – and presumably ongoing maintenance would be done by robots controlled from earth.

The power those farms produced would be transferred by cables to a transmission facility and then, after an intermediary step the complexities of which are beyond my non-scientific mind, be beamed down to receiving stations on earth via microwaves or lasers. Then it would be converted back to electricity.

Shimizu claims that once fully developed it would produce enough electricity to replace every other form of energy currently used on the planet.

Not that earth-bound energy producers need panic at that prospect any time soon.

Shimizu’s target construction start date is not until 2035 and for even that to happen there have to be significant technological breakthroughs.

The company itself uses the word “dream” when describing the proposal.

Yet I cannot help but reflect on the fact that when I was born, the idea of man in space was pure science fiction.

And then just shy of my 20th birthday I watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

Time will tell.

FOOTNOTE: I applaud Terrace city council for deciding to stick with fluoridation of our water supply.

I offer the following story to explain why I am in favour of the status quo.

My kid brother, being born in Kitimat, consumed fluoridated water for the first six years of his life, until the family moved to England. Time came for his first dental exam and the dentist was amazed to find he had not a single cavity, unheard of in England for a youngster of his age.

Where have you been living?” he asked my mother.

She explained and I suspect that dentist was converted then and there.

Retired Northern Sentinel editor Malcolm Baxter now lives in Terrace.

msdbax@citywest.ca

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