1980 Societal Assessment of SPS

I. INTRODUCTION CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT AND EVALUATION PROGRAM (CDEP) The possibility of collecting solar energy in space, converting it to a form suitable for transmission to earth, and then converting the received energy to electricity has been studied by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). A three-year joint program, * of which this report is one result, has generated information to be used in making decisions regarding development of the Satellite Power System (SPS) after 1980. NASA defined the engineering and operating characteristics of the SPS. DOE evaluated the system’s health, safety, and ecological impacts; examined economic, international, and institutional issues; and developed comparative assessments of the SPS and alternative future power sources. An SPS "Reference System" developed by NASA provided the technical and operational information DOE needed to conduct its environmental, societal and comparative assessments. An SPS satellite, as specified in the Reference System, would be a flat solar-cell array of about 50 km built on a graphitefiber-reinforced structure. A microwave transmitting antenna 1 km in diameter would be mounted on one end of the satellite. The satellites would be con- structed in geostationary earth orbit; a 150-km ground receiving station (rectenna) for each satellite would be built at the same time. The Reference System presumes that 60 satellites, each delivering 5,000 megawatts of electricity to the utility grid, would be constructed over a 30-year period, beginning in the year 2000. SOCIETAL ASSESSMENT The SPS Societal Assessment had two objectives during CDEP. The first was to determine if there were societal ramifications which, in themselves, would suggest termination or redirection of any work beyond CDEP. The second objective was to establish an information base regarding SPS societal issues from which work beyond CDEP could proceed, if warranted. These objectives, in * The superscript numbers correspond to listings in the Bibliography of Societal Assessment Reports.