Japan to shoot lasers from the moon to solve power crisis

Japan to shoot lasers from the moon to solve power crisis

Simple really -- just cover our neighbor in solar panels and let the sun do the work

MoonThe moon already drives the tides, so maybe lunar power plants aren’t such a crazy idea?

It’s funny, but last time we had a good, hard think about how to solve the planet’s looming energy crisis, we didn’t come up with the idea of girdling the moon’s equator in a 400-kilometer-wide solar panel belt and shooting power back to Earth in a laser beam.

But that’s probably because we don’t count ourselves among the crack team of big-brains at Japanese construction firm Shimizu Corp. Those guys really know how to think outside the box, push the envelope, nizzle the shizzle and a whole lot more besides.

Stilton-based scheme?

Shimizu’s post-Fukushima Luna Ring plan, which it revealed in Tokyo recently, involves having robots do all the heavy lifting up there in the cheese-filled craters of the moon to build much of the hardware needed using the satellite’s own natural resources.

Once the solar panels and associated infrastructure are in place, the theory is that the parts facing the sun can gather light, convert it to electricity and pump that by cable round to the Earth-facing side.

History repeating

From there, things go way off the reservation, even for Shimizu -- which, by the way, has a long history of presenting blue-sky ideas to greenhorn reporters in Japan. Remember its underground cities, anyone?

The company says the newfound power can be zapped to large receivers on the Earth using a combination of microwaves and lasers. From there, it can make its way in an orderly fashion to the planet’s electricity-supply grids. Problem solved.

Although Shimizu reckons work on the Luna Ring could begin by 2035, our vast experience of waiting for construction firms to get cracking means we won't be putting the kettle on just yet.

Former Europe, Japan and Australasia Editor Mark Hiratsuka is an Irish-British journalist with a background in sports, technology, travel and science writing, occasionally all on the same page.

Read more about Mark Hiratsuka