The Sunsat Energy Council
The Sunsat Energy Council (SUNSAT)is an international, non-governmental organization affiliated with theUnited Nations. Our purpose is to disseminate information about a promisingrenewable energy technology - space solar power systems. These systemscould supply baseload electricity to Earth, 24 hours per day.
The concept of solar power satellitesin high Earth orbit beaming power to the surface was conceived by Dr. PeterGlaser in 1967. Between then and 1980, the U.S. National Aeronautics andSpace Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Department of Energy studied theconcept thoroughly and developed preliminary designs that were projectedto be technologically feasible. While these studies also indicated economicfeasibility, a number of the premises made were criticized as being toooptimistic, importantly, a very low cost of moving material to space.
In the past twenty years, many aspectsof the technology have come of age, and there has been solid progress inreducing the cost of access to space. Recent studies indicate a much morecredible projection of economic feasibility. Also in recent years, therehas been a recognition that current human practices for energy acquisitionand utilization carry serious environmental risk, including global climatechange. This recognition has increased the sense of urgency for the developmentof sustainable and clean energy sources, including space-based solar.
Since 1995, NASA has been conductingnew studies of the feasibility of establishing space solar power systemsfor the production of commercial energy for use on Earth. These studieshave received significant interest and support from the U.S. Congress andare breaking new ground technically and in terms of program implementationthat could lead to the first commercial solar power transmission from spaceto Earth within the next twenty years.
As is the case for any major newtechnology in an area as important economically as energy, it will taketime for solar power from space to gain acceptance and to become economicallycompetitive with terrestrial sources of energy including solar power collectedat the Earth's surface. The promise of space solar power is that it willbe very clean (only electricity is beamed to Earth), continuous, and potentiallyvery inexpensive.
SUNSAT was founded by Dr. Glaserin 1970 to provide an educational function. For many years, a small coreof proponents of space solar power has worked quietly for SUNSAT to promotethis new technology. SUNSAT members made important contributions to renewingthe interest of NASA during the late 1990's.
The promise of space solar satellitesbeaming energy to Earth has never been brighter. The NASA studies suggestthat space-derived energy can be provided to Earth at costs that wouldbe competitive with other forms of energy, once the cost of transportationinto space has been reduced. Many organizations are now working on conceptsfor achieving transportation cost reductions. International interest inspace solar power has become more apparent. And the environmental problemsof the developing world, where clean energy sources are particularly important,have been highlighted as worldwide attention is being paid to global change.
Expanding SUNSAT's Programs
It is in this context that SUNSATwill renew and expand its program to advance public, national and internationalunderstanding of the promise of space solar power.
SUNSAT will undertake initiativesto:
(1) educate the public in the benefitsof space solar power systems,
(2) raise the awareness of governmentsaround the world, particularly in developing countries, of the manner inwhich power from space can aid in their economic development, and
(3) continually document the benefitsand likely costs of space solar power systems to allow nations, energysuppliers, and people to judge when this energy source should be integratedinto local, national and world energy systems.
Following a recommendation madeto the United Nations during UNISPACE-III, a conference held in Viennain 1999, SUNSAT is undertaking a set of case studies of the potential impactof satellite solar power systems for the economies of a number of countriesaround the world, including Brazil, China, India, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati,Maldive Islands, Mexico, New Guinea, Nigeria, Russia, Spain, and the UnitedStates. These case studies will survey geographic and demographic datafor each country, their economic status and expected growth patterns, theircurrent and expected future energy needs, their expected sources of energy,unique environmental problems and the potential role of SSP in each ofthe countries.
Becoming a Member of SUNSAT
SUNSAT is now seeking members forthe Council, both individual and corporate, who are willing to help supportthe objectives of the organization. Membership in SUNSAT can be obtainedby completing an application and paying the appropriate membership feeas shown on the form. SUNSAT members, along with the satisfaction of supportinga project that can literally change the world's future, will also enjoythe following benefits:
(1) a subscription to the Journalof Space Energy and Transportation
(2) receipt of the Journal of SpacePower (planned to be issued twice-yearly)
(3) access to full papers on theSUNSAT web site via a member's code
(4) access to the Internationalportion of the NASA web site on space power
(5) copies of back issues of theJournal of Space Energy and Transportation with significant space powercontent (while supplies last)
(6) invitations to SUNSAT activities
(7) early information about progressand issues critical to space solar power
Persons who wish to join SUNSATmay obtain a membership application from the SUNSAT web site www.sunsat-energy.org.
SUNSAT also is planning to createan endowment to support educational activities. Information on this opportunitywill be posted on the SUNSAT web site.
The current officers of SUNSAT,elected on December 23, 1999 include:
President, R. Bryan Erb, Canada
Vice-President, Michael B. Duke,U.S.A.
Secretary, Nobuyuki Kaya, Japan
Treasurer, Janet Caristo-Verrill,U.S.A.