04/12/2013 05:54 GMT | Updated 03/02/2014 05:59 GMT

Luna Ring: Japan's New Lunar Solar Panels Could Turn The Moon Into A Power Station

The world is not short of far-fetched ideas for transformative zero-emissions power stations. But while airborne drone-supported windfarms and dubious cold fusion generators are certainly nice to haves, they're not quite as bold as locating the power station itself outside Earth's atmosphere.

That's the essential idea behind 'Luna Ring' - a new plan from Japan which aims, one day, to turn the Moon into an enormous solar panel.

Shimizu Corporation's 'Luna Ring' concept would essentially enclose the moon in a gigantic, 400km-wide and 11,000 km-long mirrored structure, which would capture solar energy in an extremely efficient manner, and beam it back to Earth with lasers.

The company points out that such a concept would eliminate inefficiency due to bad weather and achieve continuous, 24/7 power "for the infinite coexistence of mankind and the Earth".

"A shift from economical use of limited resources to the unlimited use of clean energy is the ultimate dream of all mankind," Shimizu argue.

"The Luna Ring, our lunar solar power generation concept, translates this dream into reality through ingenious ideas coupled with advanced space technologies."

Now yes, it's true that the company is a bit light on details. In the section labelled "robotic construction", its entire source for the proposed methods of automatic resource extraction from the Lunar surface, assembling equipment in space and using astronauts to build it is simply "Nasa".

But the images of the idea are certainly striking - and it is true that ideas with similar principles are already in use or design stages here on Earth. Oh, and we do already use solar panels to power spacecraft that have gone as far as Jupiter.

Take a look at how the idea could work in the video, above.


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