Chinese company to build a solar array in space

Lakados

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https://futurism.com/the-byte/chinese-solar-panels-space
Lots of research on the subject going back to 2013, and it just seems like China is the current field leader in the research.
I know they are under a lot of pressure to get off Coal, they are well aware they have a ticking timebomb of an agriculture problem on their hand from the pollution and have been frantic on finding alternatives for a while. I just didn't realize they had been spending money in this area.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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China is only the leader in solar because their military intelligence has been stealing western IP, and their government has been dumping money into their industry so they can undercut the people who actually invented the technology on the open market and drive them out of business.

It's the classic Walmart approach (enter a new town, run at a loss until all competition is out of business, and then hike up prices) but with the added element of IP theft.

Now as to why you'd want to place solar panels in orbit I don't know. It seems awfully impractical, especially since you have to tether it somehow or use long distance energy beams to get that power down to earth, and tethers have problems of their own, as do energy beams (they tend to be lethal or at least very harmful for things that get in their way) There might be some efficiency gains by placing the panels outside the atmosphere, but I'd imagine the difficulty in servicing, repairing and getting the power back to earth would FAR outweigh those efficiency gains.

I mean, for the cost of putting just one solar panel in orbit and inventing a power beaming mechanism, you can put how many on earth, and connect them the traditional way with wires? 1,000? 10,000? 100,000?

Typically we talk of a cost of about $1000 per pound to send anything into orbit. A modern 350w 40 volt panel costs about $375 and weighs about 45lb. So, we are talking $375 on earth vs $43,375 in orbit, and that's just for one panel, not for the people needed to install them, all of the weight associated with the power beaming technology, etc. etc.

And things always go wrong with technology, so you'll need a way to maintain the panels, which will involve sending people up there to fix them, which has HUGE costs associated with it.

The efficiency gains would have to be enormous to justify the cost.

That, and the promised 24/7 power generation wouldn't even work from low earth orbit. The planet itself would get in the way quite a lot of the time if it is geostationary, which it would probably need to be for the power beaming system to work. And if you go beyond low earth orbit you have to deal with radiation that causes all sorts of problems.

As long as we have open space on this planet on roofs, open fields, and even windows and roads, those seem by far the better choice for solar power. We have lots of space on the planet, and as long as that is the case, this appears to be a very expensive solution in search of a problem.

It would be cheaper to undertake massive battery-like projects on earth, whether they are kinetic energy based, potential energy based, or chemical energy based.

My guess is this is more for nationalistic PR than it is for practical usability.

But "space". Sounds all future-like, advanced and like science fiction right? So it must be awesome :p
 
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LukeTbk

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China is not very concerned with how many workers might fall. They have plenty more to send up.
China will probably have one the biggest workage shortage issue in the world:
https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-...tories-are-wrestling-labour-shortages-age-old
By 2025, there will be a shortage of nearly 30 million workers in the manufacturing sector, the Ministry of Education estimates

http://www.manzellareport.com/index.php/special/the-real-cause-and-impact-of-china-s-labor-shortage

And their estimatte for the future are dire, loosing 66-70% of their working age population in the next 65 years, could very quickly be a country with more retired ederly than working people:

WZYoDprLBILZkLZ_giDc6XgjEausSZuXHJL-756gRJw.png
 

LigTasm

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China will probably have one the biggest workage shortage issue in the world:
https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-...tories-are-wrestling-labour-shortages-age-old
By 2025, there will be a shortage of nearly 30 million workers in the manufacturing sector, the Ministry of Education estimates

http://www.manzellareport.com/index.php/special/the-real-cause-and-impact-of-china-s-labor-shortage

And their estimatte for the future are dire, loosing 66-70% of their working age population in the next 65 years, could very quickly be a country with more retired ederly than working people:

It may be true, it may not be. Anything a communist ministry releases to the outside is suspect for truthfulness.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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China will probably have one the biggest workage shortage issue in the world:
https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-...tories-are-wrestling-labour-shortages-age-old
By 2025, there will be a shortage of nearly 30 million workers in the manufacturing sector, the Ministry of Education estimates

http://www.manzellareport.com/index.php/special/the-real-cause-and-impact-of-china-s-labor-shortage

And their estimatte for the future are dire, loosing 66-70% of their working age population in the next 65 years, could very quickly be a country with more retired ederly than working people:

View attachment 521934

Yeah, I read that they recently had to adjust their total population count down by about 100M people as they had overcounted them, and these 100M were all people born since the 1 child policy started in 1980, so all the wrong age to have magically disappear, especially if you already have an aging population.

This is resulting in wage inflation in China meaning that it can likely no longer fulfill the low cost manufacturer role, and in many cases it hasn't advanced far enough to take on the high value production role typically associated with the west, Japan and Taiwan.

Many analysists (I'm not going to mention names) are posting clickbait about a Chinese collapse. I think that might be a bit exaggerated to attract readers, but China is in for a bit of a challenge really starting now and only getting worse for the next 10-20 years, meaning that it may be time to retire the "rising power of China" narrative that has been used for so much fear mongering in the west.
 
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LukeTbk

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Many analysists (I'm not going to ention names) are posting clickbait about a chinese collapse. I think that might be a bit exaggerated to attract readers,
Also in many ways not many different than what Italy, Belgium, S. Korea, Japan will have to go through and most of the rest of the developed world after that, maybe a bit more or earlier in some case, maybe AI-Robots, etc... will offer solutions by then, but will be a challenge. Apocalypse scenario often have some form if no one realize the situation, and we do nothing about it.

hina is in for a bit of a challenge really starting now and only getting worse for the next 10-20 years, meaning that it may be time to retire the "rising power of China" narrative that has been used for so much fear mongering in the west.
A bit like we did with the fear of Japan in the 90s ( i remember the talk of them being technologically 10 year’s in advance and to surpass the US economy and owning most of their foreign debt when I was a kid, and we shifted to it was big plus that Japan became a nice producer of world product&Service and gave us Honda-Toyata competition, Nintendo and so on, like Korea with Huyndai-Samsung-LG)
 

Jagger100

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China will probably have one the biggest workage shortage issue in the world:
https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-...tories-are-wrestling-labour-shortages-age-old
By 2025, there will be a shortage of nearly 30 million workers in the manufacturing sector, the Ministry of Education estimates

http://www.manzellareport.com/index.php/special/the-real-cause-and-impact-of-china-s-labor-shortage

And their estimatte for the future are dire, loosing 66-70% of their working age population in the next 65 years, could very quickly be a country with more retired ederly than working people:

View attachment 521934
I know a virus that addresses this problem. Fatality was high among people who couldn't work due to age or health and low among the Sub 65 able bodied. What a perfect fit.
 

THRESHIN

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China is only the leader in solar because their military intelligence has been stealing western IP, and their government has been dumping money into their industry so they can undercut the people who actually invented the technology on the open market and drive them out of business.

It's the classic Walmart approach (enter a new town, run at a loss until all competition is out of business, and then hike up prices) but with the added element of IP theft.

Now as to why you'd want to place solar panels in orbit I don't know. It seems awfully impractical, especially since you have to tether it somehow or use long distance energy beams to get that power down to earth, and tethers have problems of their own, as do energy beams (they tend to be lethal or at least very harmful for things that get in their way) There might be some efficiency gains by placing the panels outside the atmosphere, but I'd imagine the difficulty in servicing, repairing and getting the power back to earth would FAR outweigh those efficiency gains.

I mean, for the cost of putting just one solar panel in orbit and inventing a power beaming mechanism, you can put how many on earth, and connect them the traditional way with wires? 1,000? 10,000? 100,000?

Typically we talk of a cost of about $1000 per pound to send anything into orbit. A modern 350w 40 volt panel costs about $375 and weighs about 45lb. So, we are talking $375 on earth vs $43,375 in orbit, and that's just for one panel, not for the people needed to install them, all of the weight associated with the power beaming technology, etc. etc.

And things always go wrong with technology, so you'll need a way to maintain the panels, which will involve sending people up there to fix them, which has HUGE costs associated with it.

The efficiency gains would have to be enormous to justify the cost.

That, and the promised 24/7 power generation wouldn't even work from low earth orbit. The planet itself would get in the way quite a lot of the time if it is geostationary, which it would probably need to be for the power beaming system to work. And if you go beyond low earth orbit you have to deal with radiation that causes all sorts of problems.

As long as we have open space on this planet on roofs, open fields, and even windows and roads, those seem by far the better choice for solar power. We have lots of space on the planet, and as long as that is the case, this appears to be a very expensive solution in search of a problem.

It would be cheaper to undertake massive battery-like projects on earth, whether they are kinetic energy based, potential energy based, or chemical energy based.

My guess is this is more for nationalistic PR than it is for practical usability.

But "space". Sounds all future-like, advanced and like science fiction right? So it must be awesome :p
Because the efficiency gains of solar panels in orbit really are massive. No atmosphere in the way which blocks most of the solar energy. Constant output (or close to). Plus the added benefit of being able to make it as big as you want without any worries about land used.

Your points are entirely correct though. Cost and technical barriers of getting them up there, getting the energy back to earth. I can't imagine a traditional transmission cable working well either. Line losses and just not breaking the thing. That calls for a new way of moving the power.

According to the article they want to use microwave which would eliminate the need for a cable but I wonder what the losses associated with that would be? I'd imagine the atmosphere would play a big role here, but I admit I really don't know.

I can't see this being safe if say an airplane were to fly through the microwave beam...or birds for that matter.
 

OFaceSIG

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China is the leader in exactly jack and ****. They only muscle others out with cost. Every great product they make, is designed by others. All the good products. Anything else is a clone. It could be a decent clone, but a clone non-the-less.
 

OFaceSIG

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China will probably have one the biggest workage shortage issue in the world:
https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-...tories-are-wrestling-labour-shortages-age-old
By 2025, there will be a shortage of nearly 30 million workers in the manufacturing sector, the Ministry of Education estimates

http://www.manzellareport.com/index.php/special/the-real-cause-and-impact-of-china-s-labor-shortage

And their estimatte for the future are dire, loosing 66-70% of their working age population in the next 65 years, could very quickly be a country with more retired ederly than working people:

View attachment 521934
This is what happens when you are encouraged to abort anything beyond one child for about 30 years.
 

flegg

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There's other people working on this as well. You use longer wave microwaves which pass through atmosphere and clouds (so likely wouldn't hurt birds either). The advantage comes from the portability as well as the being in space part. Like you can redirect the beam to fill up various locations' batteries throughout the day. Essentially using one solar array to power multiple locations regardless of local weather.
How it would handle radiation and things like solar events and what orbits to use I have no idea.
 

applegrcoug

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Shocking. Forty years after the one child policy and they are out of 40 year olds. And it is even worse than that...they have a huge gender imbalance.

So they can just turn to automation and ai like Japan. You know, Japan a leader in automation because they are the oldest country with no kids...there is a reason why they are building smart self wiping toilets. But yeah, the west has told China no more chip manufacturing supplies or tech or anything.

China is in for a fall of epic proportions. What is their debt:GDP? 400%+ look at all those ghost cities. Only twice has a country not collapsed when debt:GDP hit 100%. The USA after WW2 and the UK after the napoleonic wars. At 150% it is all over.

When the bullets start flying, I hope none stray over here.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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This is what happens when you are encouraged to abort anything beyond one child for about 30 years.

China was legitimately worried about overpopulation and lack of being able to feed a rapidly growing population. They just failed to take into account the devastating economical effects of a rapidly shrinking population, and over-corrected, and now it is probably too late to fix it.
 

cjcox

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Elon Musk was ticked to find out the plug in will not be compatible.

tesla-in-space.jpeg
 

OFaceSIG

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China was legitimately worried about overpopulation and lack of being able to feed a rapidly growing population. They just failed to take into account the devastating economical effects of a rapidly shrinking population, and over-corrected, and now it is probably too late to fix it.
China was worried about that because in the late 70s and 80s they were a full blown third world communist country without any free markets they didn't know how to they would feed them. So in any eventuality it's their fault. Whether it's communism or being abortion happy or just hating female children in general.
 

Future Fun

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Don't underestimate the effect of our automation and move of production back to the "west". China will also automate and i don't think they need the most advanced technology for it. Chinese are not an extint specie, they have a good looking base to start of with )
 

sfsuphysics

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Like you can redirect the beam to fill up various locations' batteries throughout the day. Essentially using one solar array to power multiple locations regardless of local weather.
But if you have batteries to fill up why would you build the thing in space in the first place, while the lack of atmosphere is a nice perk the real advantage is 24 hours of power.

Also another issue is you need to park it in geosynchronous orbit which is some 23k miles away, 1r^2 type losses (or whatever it is for a focused beam) will be big.

And I'm sure this was largely ignored but if you build huge solar array that also has another name... a sail! And sure there might be equal amounts of push through the orbit, the amounts of those pushes may compound and put it into an unstable orbit.

Solar in space really should be restricted to objects that stay in space unless land usage is completely maxed on the ground
 

Future Fun

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That might happen, but it ought be easy to find something for people to do like environment or military.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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Chinese are not an extint specie, they have a good looking base to start of with )

Yeah, there are some (notably in Youtube videos) really hyping up "The Imminant Collapse of China" and stuff like that.

This is mostly nonsense.

China is not about to burst like a freaking balloon.

China is - however - likely to suffer the consequences from a combination of long term problems:

1.) Shrinking population.


This causes

1a.) A growing disconnect between the quantity of those who are retired or out of their prime working age, to those who are working and supporting the retirees. This usually results in economic decline. Either the government shoulders the cost of the aging population, which slows the economy due to the need for greater taxation, OR people take care of their elderly themselves, resulting in them spending less money on other things that grow the economy, less time working, and more time in care, slowing the economy

1b.) Wage inflation. China grew to prominence by being a low cost producer. It's not going to be able to keep that up if there are more jobs than workers available. This will drive up wages and reduce China's competitiveness in the low cost producer category. Shifting to high tech manufacturing and automation are certainly possibilities, but unfrotunately for China too much of their worker base is low skill, with only a distinct minority of more capable and highly educated workers. It is probably too late to change this now to avoid a major impact.

2.) Debt problems


Because the social contract in China has been so closely tied to economic growth for so long, the authoritarian regime has done many dumb things economically in order to keep people employed and happy. In the west getting a business loan depends on your ability to repay it and to become a successful profit generating business. In China the ability to gain a business loan depends on how many people you can promise to keep employed.

This has resulted in some seriously flawed debt spending. Yes, we are no strangers to debt spending over here either, but in China it has been done on projects that can likely never pay for themselves. The real estate crisis over there is based on the real estate market being so hot and hyped that people felt the need to invest in it for their future. It has resulted in the construction of empty ghost cities with investors owning condos in them that no one lives in. In many cases actual construction wasn't fast enough, so construction companies sold deeds to properties that weren't even built yet, that investors are owning and paying off on. And then due to corruption, these companies just turned around and started raising money for the next project, instead of actually building the homes, leaving investors owning nothing.

The Chinese real estate crisis is unlike anything we have had over here. It makes the 2007 collateralized debt obligation crash seem like nothing in comparison.

And it's just the tip of the iceberg. Projects like China Rail are likely next, as they become insolvent and risk default on their massive debts incurred to build that crazy modern high speed rail system to places where people don't even ride the train, again, because these things were built based on the promise of creating jobs, not on any kind of model of economic solvency.


All of this combined is going to result in severe economic problems in China. Rather than a collapse and there is suddenly no more China (which is wholly unrealistic) it will likely be more like a several decades long economic decline resulting in malaise and reduced government spending. China has some tools in their authoritarian bucket they can use to hide (at least partially) these effects for a longer time than we could in the west, so it may not look like a sudden "collapse" but it will be bad. The Chinese economy will be utterly unable to continue growth at the same pace it has seen for the last 30 years, and more likely than not, it will enter a long period of decline.

What that results in from a perspective of social upheaval remains to be seen. The unspoken social contract in China has been that they are willing to put up with authoritarian single party rule, as long as this results in economic growth and well-being for the people. Once the economic growth ceases to be as prominent, who knows what will happen over there.

We've already seen things boil over with the protests around frozen bank accounts, and the organized refusal to pay mortgages for homes that don't exist. If things get worse, so likely will the anger of the people. The question will be how the party will handle it.

We have already seen Xi Jinping try to re-frame this contract, for years now moving the emphasis away from the economic growth of his predecessors and early in his leadership, to a focus more on ethnic Han Chinese cultural identity, national pride and nationalism.

The way I have heard it framed by the party is as follows:

Mao Zedong freed Chinese people
Deng Xiaoping freed Chinese industry
Jaing Zemin and Hu Jintao made China prosperous; and
Xi Jinping made (or will make) China strong.

We will see how effective the re-framing will be at keeping people happy as time goes on. It is unclear how Xi Jinping intends to keep making China stronger with less and less of an economic basis with which to do so.

It will be interesting to see if this succeeds, as the economy slows.

We here in the U.S. are one of the few developed nations that are lucky to have a relatively robust millennial generation, and will avoid some of these problems (at least for now). The millennials aren't exactly having children at the same rate as previous generations, so the follow on generation may not be as robust, at which point we might see some of the same issues here.


That might happen, but it ought be easy to find something for people to do like environment or military.

Decades of doing this is exactly what has resulted in the crisis. Focusing more on what is able to keep people occupied than on what is viable business.

Something has to pay for those environmental activities and the military, and the bottom is about to fall out of that.

Also, finding things for people to do is unlikely going to be part of the problem, now that China is by far the fastest shrinking population on the planet. They have exceeded Japan by a wide margin at this point.
 

Future Fun

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They will probably blame the rich then confiskate, tax more and consolidate industry. Like when Kings in Europe took from the church. Other rich people will be richer.
 

idiomatic

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Space Based Solar Power has been in the works since the 70's. Both Musk and Bezos were huge on it in high school.

It gives Solar baseload anywhere on the planet, no batteries are needed. You lose like 70% in transmission but it is still worth it. Its safe for birds and planes to fly through.

But a decent one starts at about 5000 tonnes. And you really want like 40 of the things.

Also politically it sounds a hell of a lot like a weapon.

If only someone was working on a very large re-usable rocket.... Maybe someone who wasn't afraid of industrial scale electricity projects and was keen on giant constellations...

If I wanted to put one up and not have anybody else get there first... I would mask it with something that also needed a large rocket but that maybe wasn't obviously economical... like putting people on Mars.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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They didn't steal it.

Of course they did.

Military Intelligence over there targets industries in the west, hacks into their systems and vacuums up all of their designs and proprietary data.

This is then handed over to local Chinese companies, along with enough government funding that they can dump out these designs on the international markets at prices that the company that actually invented the technology can't compete with and then go out of business.

China has repeated this model over and over again in different industries, but especially in solar which has been a target for them to dominate.
It's not just the panels, but also the control systems, etc.

It is China's goal to dominate all future industries, by any means possible, legal, ethical, moral or not.

This is what happened with the Solyndra scandal. The U.S. government tried to compensate for illegal chinese dumping of stolen tech on the international market by providing low rate loans to help them survive China's illegal behavior, but it was too little too late.
 

Verge

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Of course they did.

Military Intelligence over there targets industries in the west, hacks into their systems and vacuums up all of their designs and proprietary data.

This is then handed over to local Chinese companies, along with enough government funding that they can dump out these designs on the international markets at prices that the company that actually invented the technology can't compete with and then go out of business.

China has repeated this model over and over again in different industries, but especially in solar which has been a target for them to dominate.
It's not just the panels, but also the control systems, etc.

It is China's goal to dominate all future industries, by any means possible, legal, ethical, moral or not.

This is what happened with the Solyndra scandal. The U.S. government tried to compensate for illegal chinese dumping of stolen tech on the international market by providing low rate loans to help them survive China's illegal behavior, but it was too little too late.
I mean i'm trying not to soapbox this, but no. We gave it to them.

https://www.nytimes.com/1999/05/11/world/clinton-approves-technology-transfer-to-china.html
 

Zarathustra[H]

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Yeah, I don't want this to turn soapboxy either, but just because an export of specific technology for a specific space mission was approved in the 90's, doesn't mean we gave them everything.

China uses a variety of sources for the IP they steal.
- Some of it is legitimately exported there, only to be reverse engineered in violation of typical IP norms.
- Others information is gathered from purchasing products on the open market and reverse engineering them
- And yet other information is stolen in various industrial espionage, including hacks by Chinese military intelligence.

These various sources of information are are combined to to create products they can then dump on the international market below cost in order to drive competitors out of business.

Regardless of the source, it still qualifies as stolen IP. Just because the us approved export of a narrow subset of technology in support of a space mission, does not mean that technology was legally free to use for any purpose. This is also just one of many sources of information, just about all of them resultant from theft.

I'll agree the Clinton administration was a little naive in what it thought might happen with the approved export, but we also were not as conscious to Chinese IP and technology theft back then as we are today.
 

Jagger100

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