The Japanese construction and engineering company Shimizu has released a plan to ring the moon’s equator with a 248-mile wide solar panel belt that would, in effect, turn the moon into a minor sun — supplementing solar energy to a planet in need. As if taken directly from a science-fiction novel, the introduction of the report reads, “a shift from economical use of limited resources to the unlimited use of clean energy is the ultimate dream of all mankind.” And it is of sci-fi proportions indeed — according to Shimuzu, the belt, which would beam energy back to earth via antennas 12 miles in diameter, could generate the colossal sum of 13,000 terrawatts of energy. The U.S. generated 4,500 terawatts in 2011. Germany is the world leader in solar power, with 32.3 gigawatts installed as of December 2012. Shimuzu proposes building most of the solar belt with robots and using lunar resources as much as possible in construction process.
Back on earth, solar energy is soaring in Japan even without harnessing the moon’s infinite resources. Recent projections show Japan’s solar power market growing 350 percent from 2012 to 2013.
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