Feasibility of Moon Energy Project
I do concede this is a project where costs would be quite difficult to estimate.
However, first there is a fundamental technical question that needs to be answered:
1. What percent of the microwaves sent from the moon antennae network will be received by the respective antennae on Earth? I don't know if it is physically possible to focus microwave beams so most of the energy hits relatively small antennae more than 350,000 kilometers away.
Once the above question is properly answered, we can move to the cost. The following list is not comprehensive, it is just to start the conversation:
- Establishing of the mining/manufacturing/deployment moon base. How many tons of equipment would be sent from Earth? How many people will work there full time? How often will they come back to Earth? We'll obviously need to know the cost per ton of delivery to the moon.
- According to the IEA, the Earth will consume 40 trillion kWh by 2040. Translating 10% of that amount to average consumption would give us ~457 GW. If we consider the solar capacity factor in the Moon (feel free to challenge this number) at 40% (much higher than on Earth where it averages ~15%), then we need the following installed capacity: 1,140 GW (for 10% of global consumption). As a reference, the total solar PV installed on Earth at the end of 2013 was ~139 GW.
- If the panels are going to be located in the near and far side of the moon, the transmission lines need to be considered also.
- However, we first have to answer question #1 above. If the answer is, say, 33% then the capacity would need to be increased accordingly.
Bottom line, I think the fundamental activity would be to answer question #1 and then establish a pilot plant of, say, 1 MW. When would this happen?
On the other hand, this project (at much smaller scale) might be just right for supplying a moon base with energy.
Thanks for your interest in energy.