February 17, 2014 – Called Shimizu’s Dream, a 400 kilometer-wide band of solar panels girdling the Moon’s equator, it would generate enough power to meet all earthly requirements. Conceived by a Japanese company, Shimizu Corporation, it would largely be constructed by robots supervised by a few astronauts based on the lunar surface.
Called the Luna Ring it would extend the entire length of the Moon’s equator, 11,000 kilometers (6,835 miles). At first it would be a few kilometers in width but overtime as it was built out it would eventually reach its full 400 kilometer (250 mile) span.
Laced with electric power cables to transfer power to a Earth-facing 20 kilometer (12 miles) wide transmission facility, the energy would be converted to microwaves and following a radio guidance beacon be beamed to a receiving station on Earth.
Most if not all of the material for construction of the Luna Ring would come from the Moon’s surface. Power for the equipment to build the Ring would be generated from sections of the ring as each is built.
Space-based solar power has been a dream of scientists and engineers for some time. But this is the first project of its type to be so well documented. Can the Japanese company that conceived it pull it off? It should be stated that this is just one of eight futuristic proposals made by the company. These include floating green island cities that would be deployed in the Pacific Ocean, truss-designed cities that would almost float on air, enclosed, self-sustaining urban spaces capable of operating autonomously for a century, underground cities, space hotels, lunar bases, and the transformation of the world’s deserts by lacing them with artificial lakes and waterways to make them bloom.
For those who believe the Moon should be preserved in the same way we treat Antarctica today, such a project would be considered a massive assault on nature. But the absence of life on the Moon with only the presence of a few Apollo artifacts makes the idea conceivable and less a violation of nature than let’s say building a tourist attraction on Greenland or Antarctica’s glaciers.
Nowhere does Shimizu tell us how much the Luna Ring would cost? But as the company has described it once the first robots arrived on the Moon they would replicate themselves as well as construct the Ring from lunar material with little human involvement. So we are really talking about investing in start up costs and then letting the Ring build itself.