Lunar Based Solar Power (LSP) is not a new concept: Dr. David Criswell, a retired physicist from the University of Houston has been championing it for over 40 years.
The idea would involve depending on small, cheap satellites to relay microwave beams between the Moon and receiving stations on Earth, which would turn those beams into electricity. Microwaves could penetrate clouds with minimal energy loss and could be relayed to receivers on Earth’s night side as easily as the dayside.
This would mean it could provide energy night and day and would not be affected by the elements, come rain, snow or sunshine. The savings would be dramatic with electricity costing the average American 0.001 cents per kilowatt hours as opposed to the current 12 cents.
Source : NASA
Lunar Based Solar Power: Reduced Electricity Costs
If the plan was attempted it could provide up to 0.1 terawatts of electric power and be a way to produce clean cheap electricity. From there it is proposed more LSP bases could be built and export as much as 20 terawatts. It would be initially expensive though costing an estimated $240 billion dollars.
Too much power in one place?
This form of clean energy however is not without its critics such as John Mankins, President of Mankins Space Technology, Inc who told Forbes “A power station on the Moon would deliver roughly 200 gigawatts to a single location on Earth…There are no markets that need that amount of power in a single large “chunk.”
A potential way around this would be to divert the power once it reached earth and it could be distributed from there. Although there is currently not enough interest or backing to fund this project it is an insight into other ways to help utilize clean energy.
In the same Forbes article Dr Criswell says “By the year 2050, ten billion people will require at least 2 kilowatts of electricity per person or a global total of 20 terawatts…. I really think the Moon is our only option for sustainable and affordable electric power on a global scale”.