Comments on the Solar Power Satellite Research, Development, and Demonstration Program Act of 1978
EMD-78-61, Apr 13, 1978
The Solar Power Satellite Research, Development, and Demonstration Program Act of 1978 would establish a program in the Department of Energy (DOE) to pursue research, development, and demonstration of solar power satellites (SPS) as a major source of energy. Enacting legislation for such a program at this time with the expectation of demonstrating such systems in the near future is premature. Technical, environmental, economic, and institutional issues surrounding SPS systems have not been adequately investigated, and supporting technologies such as the space shuttle and photovoltaic energy systems are years away from being useful in deploying SPS systems. Under existing legislation, the DOE has initiated a SPS Concept Development and Evaluation Program to formulate a better understanding of the SPS concept. This program was begun in fiscal year 1977, and about $7.6 million has been obligated for carrying out the program through 1978. Program activities are expected to result in the formulation of program recommendations by June 1980 either to continue further study, field testing, and possibly space testing, or to terminate the program. The scope of DOE's ongoing program appears sufficient to gain a better understanding of the issues surrounding SPS systems. After these studies are completed, a better basis will exist for evaluating the pros and cons of a costly SPS development program.