Daily Inspiration: Energy & Space – “If you can’t dream big, why bother dreaming at all?”

Category under: Blog, Daily Inspiration, Think Big

“If you can’t dream big, why bother dreaming at all?” – Futurist Jim Carroll

Out on the fringe of exploration are a lot of ‘crazy‘ ideas – that is until they aren’t so crazy anymore!

I was thinking of that when my daily research service delivered me this particular clip:

Every day I receive quite a few messages like this – I’ve got a sophisticated research system that constantly scours global news sources, press releases, scientific journals, and other sources for nuggets of information related to trends in dozens of industries. I scan through this, often seeking the small bits of information that might light up my inquisitive mind. And this one certainly caught my attention!

 Plans to harvest solar power in space using satellites to produce a potentially endless supply of clean energy have taken a big leap forward with Irish scientists making a key breakthrough on how to deploy the technology.

Irish scientists move closer to creating solar farms in space
Queen’s University team successfully deploys new technology on satellites
The Irish Times,
Thursday, 16 May 2024

Space-based energy! I’d been aware of this as something on the periphery of the energy and space sector. What is it?

SSP is a decades-old idea that has only recently become economically viable due to the rapidly falling costs of space access and technological advancements such as higher efficiency electronics, low-cost mass-production of modular space systems like satellites, robotic in-space construction, and wireless power transmission.

In essence, the basic idea is to generate solar energy in space and beam it back down to earth. Sounds complicated enough, but fascinating! On to the specific bit of Irish news that my news tracker delivered:

A company hoping to launch the first solar farm into space has passed a critical milestone with a prototype on Earth.

Oxfordshire-based Space Solar plans to power more than a million homes by the 2030s with mile-wide complex of mirrors and solar panels orbiting 22,000 miles above the planet.

But its super-efficient design for harvesting constant sunlight – called CASSIOPeiA – requires the system to rotate towards the sun, whatever its position, while still sending power to a fixed receiver on the ground.

The power generated by the solar panels would be beamed back to earth

That’s now been shown to work for the first time at Queen’s University Belfast, with a wireless beam successfully “steered” across a lab to turn on a light.

World first UK prototype could pave the way for constant energy all the time – from space
Building the solar power farm in space would take more than 60 rocket flights and a team of robot builders – but it’s one step closer to being a reality.

World first UK prototype could pave the way for constant energy all the time – from space,
SkyNews, Friday 5 April 2024

Wild stuff, this!

And it is this precise type of thing that would cause small minds to think “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.” 

But consider this – Robert Goddard, one of the two acknowledged pioneers of modern rocketry (the other was Russian) – was ridiculed for his ideas and research into launching devices into space. Steve Jobs and Apple were ridiculed when the first iPhone was brought to market. Reed Hastings, the founder of NetFlix faced skepticism with investors. And Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, was told that his plans for a next-day courier delivery service were a ridiculous idea.

All of them dreamed big and chased their big dreams. As is this young Irish upstart.

Who knows if it will work or not – I would imagine the technological problems to be vast. And yet today, just ten years after I did a few leadership keynotes for NASA on the disruption of the space industry and the birth of commercialized, privatized space, SpaceX is busy launching rockets and then landing them upright on a ship in the ocean, so that they may be reused again. And in some cases, it’s done two in parallel.

One person’s stupid idea is another person’s dream – and it’s those who dream big who are the ones who deliver our next future, next industries, and our next opportunities. Who are we to say they are wrong? Often we’re not the ones doing the dreaming!

In their mind, their goals are lofty, significant, and far out of reach – which is why they have the energy, enthusiasm, and drive to achieve them. Because if they aren’t dreaming big, what’s the point of dreaming at all?



THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.