One of These Days, Alice. Bang! Zoom! Straight to the Moon!
Big problems need big solutions, and the Shimizu corporation in Japan certainly can't be blamed for thinking small. It has made plans to provide enough clean energy to all of humanity by turning the moon into a kind of anti-Death Star, a giant solar power station that brings life instead of death. It might sound like complete science-fiction now, but who knows what will be possible in a 100 years (if we make it that far)? Read on for more details on how this would work.
This Plan Has Robots and Everything!
470diggsdiggThe general idea is: You build a massive "belt" of solar cells around the Moon's equator (that's about 6,800 miles, or 11,000 kilometers). You convert that electricity to microwaves or lasers that you beam back to Earth from the near-side of the Moon (the side always closest to Earth) with a 20km-diameter antenna, and you convert those beams back to electricity at power stations using receiving rectennas. A guidance beacon will make sure that the beam is always going where it is supposed to go (and if not, the power will be instantly cut).
The solar belt would initially be relatively small, but could be grown up to 400 kilometers wide over time. Such a belt could produce more than enough clean energy for all of humanity and then some.
Keep Your Feet on the Ground (For Now)
The plan involves construction by robots that are assembled in space and then landed on the Moon, the use of as much materials straight from the Moon's ground as possible, and a team of astronauts to support the robots on the surface of the Moon. That's crazy ambitious, but a lot of the things that we take for granted now probably would sound "crazy ambitious" to people from 100 or 200 years ago, so you never know.
But let's not count on something like this until the first watts are being beamed back to Earth. In the meantime, we need to find other ways to get off dirty sources of energy. It's good to dream and plan for the far future, but nothing's real but the present.