Um….. OK, let’s think about this for a moment. What’s the total energy cost of putting all those solar panels up into space? And what would the duty life of a panel be? Would it be long enough to pay back the energy debt incurred by (i) manufacturing them, and (ii) sending them into orbit?

Now let’s consider how we get the electricity down to Earth: some kind of massive lightning bolt (in effect). Doesn’t sound very eco-friendly to me because of the ionization that would occur, not to mention the instant frying of everything nearby both living and dead.

Now let’s consider the fact that solar panels on Earth can be replaced every few years when new panels with much higher efficiency arrive on the scene. Can’t really do that in space at any meaningful scale without incurring yet more cost for all those launches (and yes, I’m assuming lower-cost launch options from SpaceX et al).

And finally we still need suitable ways to store the electricity during hours of darkness and it’s already clear that Lithium-ion isn’t the way to go (to learn why, see https://medium.com/@allanmlees59/why-your-hybrid-or-ev-isnt-saving-the-planet-9c4edb8eea50) but unfortunately your article doesn’t really explore this important topic.

So maybe it’s just better to do what we’re already doing, and put panels on rooftops until we develop more adequate storage, better panels, and then… head out to Nevada where there’s plenty of open land, blue skies, and no enormous launch costs. Even better: ordinary people can drive out with a toolbox and fix stuff when it goes wrong, without having to pay the Russians $90 million per seat on one of their manned missions.

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