Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP): Meeting Humanity’s Energy, National Security, Environmental and Economic Development Needs

Views on the NSSO-Sponsored SBSP Study Report

National Press Club Washington, D.C. Wednesday, October 10, 2007

For more information, or comments, contact: Margo Deckard SBSP Project Manager Space Frontier Foundation mardeckard@aol.com 937-367-4080

Space Frontier Foundation

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There are 6 billion human beings inhabiting this world. Six billion humans who place demands on this Earth. Humans who want the Western standard-of-living and who justifiably want all the conveniences of modern life. A fundamental challenge in this century is how to provide for the world's growing energy needs. While meeting this challenge, it is vital that we also protect the Earth's fragile biosphere. Space-Based Solar Power, or SBSP, may be part of a combined solution for both energy and the environment. SBSP has the potential to produce renewable energy in very large amounts, in an economic and environmentally-friendly manner. The Space Frontier Foundation commends the National Security Space Office (NSSO) for requesting the study to examine SBSP and the appropriate roles of government and private industry in its development. The Space Frontier Foundation agrees with 100% of the recommendations in the NSSO-led study report. The Space Frontier Foundation, which has opposed many other federally-funded space programs as being wasteful and/or ineffective, strongly supports a new national initiative for the U.S. Government to finance and incentivize the private industry development of SBSP. We urge the current White House, the existing Presidential candidates, the U.S. Congress, and U.S. industry to heed the NSSO-led study’s finding that “space-based solar power presents a strategic opportunity” for America that “merits significant further attention on the part of both the US Government and the private sector.” The NSSO-led study reports that the United States has spent over $20 Billion on fusion energy research in a steady and sustained manner. In fact, the White House has requested $418 million for fusion research in FY2008, which is 5 times the total amount this nation has invested in SBSP over the last 40 years. The Space Frontier Foundation agrees that “SBSP requires a coordinated national program with high-level leadership and resourcing commensurate with its promise, but at least on the level of fusion energy research or International Space Station construction and operations.” For the last 40 years, the biggest challenge to space-based solar power has not been technology. The biggest challenge has been figuring out “How can SBSP ever become economically affordable, compared to alternatives?” Perhaps the biggest news of the NSSO-led study is that the team uncovered something new that might forever change the economic equation for space-based solar power. The report estimates that the Department of Defense (DoD) is paying about $1 per kilowatt-hour for electricity in forward bases in Iraq, when all indirect costs are included. This is an order of magnitude higher in price than what Americans pay for electricity in their homes. These higher electricity prices are not caused by gouging, but by the realities of war and how electricity is generated for the warfighter. Currently, we pump oil out of the ground in the Middle East or the continental United States, and then transport the oil to the Gulf coast where it is refined into kerosene. We then pump the kerosene onto tankers, which must be guarded by the U.S. Navy, and transport it to the Gulf region. We then pump the kerosene off the tankers into individual trucks, which
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must be heavily guarded by American ground forces. Then, these convoys, which are primary targets for asymmetric attacks by improvised explosive devices, must run a dangerous gauntlet through a war zone. Finally, the kerosene is delivered to the forward bases, where it is converted into electricity. The NSSO-led study report finds that: o Petroleum products account for approximately 70% of delivered tonnage to U.S. forces in Iraq—total daily consumption is approximately 1.6 million gallons. o Significant numbers of American men and women are killed and injured while they are defending these supply chains. o The estimated cost of $1 per kilowatt hour does NOT include the cost in lives of American men and women. In other words, if space-based solar power existed today it would be saving the lives of American men and women in Iraq. It is this fundamental finding that creates the possibility that the DoD might become an early adopter, and anchor tenant customer, for SBSP. The possibility that the Department of Defense might be willing to sign up as anchor tenant to “pay for SBSP services delivered to the warfighter in forward bases in amounts of 5-50 MW continuous, at a price of $1 or more per kilowatt-hour”, changes the entire economic equation of SBSP. For this reason, the business case for Space-Based Solar Power may close in the very near future with reasonable and appropriate actions by the U.S. Government. In order to close the business case, and begin the development of SBSP, the Foundation urges the Administration and the U.S. Congress to enact the following specific recommendations by the NSSO-led study report. 1. DoD as Anchor Tenant Customer: The key to every business is having dependable and reliable customer(s). The availability of a dependable anchor tenant customer, who is willing to pay $1 or more per kilowatt hour for large amounts of power, is a major step forward. • The SBSP Study Group recommends that the DoD should immediately conduct a requirements analysis of underlying long-term DoD demand for secure, reliable, and mobile energy delivery to the warfighter, what the DoD might be willing to pay for a SBSP service delivered to the warfighter and under what terms and conditions, and evaluate the appropriateness and effectiveness of various approaches to signing up as an anchor tenant customer of a commerciallydelivered service, such as the NextView acquisition approach pioneered by the National GeoSpatial-imaging Agency.

2. Extend Federal Incentives for Other Carbon-Neutral Energy Technologies to SBSP: The U.S. Government is providing major incentives to many other energy technologies, in support of energy independence and clean renewable energy

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objectives. The Space Frontier Foundation believes it is completely reasonable to ask for consistency in policy, and quite reasonable since the potential pay-off of SBSP is so large. • The SBSP Study Group recommends that consistent with the U.S. Government incentives provided to other carbon-neutral energy technologies, it is critical for the U.S. Government to provide similar incentives to encourage private U.S. industry to co-invest in the development of SBSP systems. Specifically, the following incentives should be provided to U.S. industry as soon as possible to encourage private investment in the development and construction of SBSP systems: Carbon/Pollution Credits and Offsets: The Space Frontier Foundation believes that it should be rather straight-forward for the U.S. Congress to clarify, to the extent necessary, that existing law and policy on carbon/pollution credits and offsets also apply to SBSP. o Legislation at both the federal and state level that specifies — and clarifies existing law as specifying — that SBSP is eligible for all pollution credits, carbon credits, and carbon off-sets that are available to other clean and renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro, ground solar, and nuclear • Extend Loan Guarantees to SBSP Developers & Operators: The nuclear power industry has been given loan guarantees by the U.S. federal government. The Space Frontier Foundation urges the Administration and the U.S. Congress to extend the same incentives to the SBSP industry. o A federal loan guarantee program of up to 80% should be created for U.S. companies engaged in the business of developing, owning and operating SBSP systems. This program should either be an extension of, or modeled after, the existing loan guarantee program provided to the nuclear power industry. 3. Low-Cost and Reliable Access to Space (LCRATS): The Space Frontier Foundation agrees with the NSSO-led study that the “U.S. needs Low-Cost and Reliable Access to Space (LCRATS)”, and that “LCRATS will also deliver significant benefits to U.S. national security and American economic competitiveness, independent of SBSP.” We urge the U.S. Congress to adopt the study reports recommendation “The nation ... must significantly increase its investments in … LCRATS and ubiquitous on-orbit space operations for national security and economic purposes.”

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o Recommendation: The SBSP Study Group recommends the enactment of legislation to create transferable investment tax credits for private industry investments in reusable Earth-to-orbit space transportation systems and in commercially-owned and operated space infrastructure for orbit-to-orbit transfer, on-orbit assembly systems, orbital fuel depots, and orbital repair, maintenance and upgrade systems. In the Space Frontier Foundation's credo, we have committed ourselves to protect "the Earth's fragile biosphere" and to bring about a better life for the human race by "utilizing the unlimited energy and material resources of space." With these goals in mind, the Foundation is committed to an SBSP Campaign to reach out to the environmental community and to ensure that “green principals” are used throughout any development of SBSP in this nation. The Space Frontier Foundation agrees with the NSSO-led report finding that “although SBSP holds great promise to deliver clean and renewable energy to all nations of the world, the potential environmental impacts of the various systems and mitigation options to minimize those impacts require greater study.” Therefore, the Space Frontier Foundation intends to hold the U.S. Government to the specific recommendation in the report that “the U.S. Government ... must study the potential environmental impacts of the various approaches early enough to help make effective choices between the various technical alternatives. These studies should be led by agencies with the required scientific expertise, credibility, and independence, and need to include all relevant stakeholders. Environmental studies should be piggybacked to demonstrations of the technologies to minimize the environmental impact in the eventual large-scale use of SBSP; therefore, maximizing the environmental benefit of SBSP.” We must look out of the box to solve the problems of nonrenewable energy and the human impact on Earth. Please join us in supporting this promising technology. The Space Frontier Foundation is an organization of people dedicated to opening the Space Frontier to human settlement as rapidly as possible. Our goals include protecting the Earth's fragile biosphere and creating a freer and more prosperous life for each generation by using the unlimited energy and material resources of space. For more information on the Foundation’s plans to support SBSP, please contact “Margo Deckard” at mardeckard@aol.com.

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