A Japanese construction company is proposing to solve the energy problems facing Japan, and ultimately the entire planet, by turning the moon into a solar power plant.
Shimizu Corp, which is based in Tokyo, wants to lay a belt of solar panels 400km wide around the equator of the Moon and relay the resulting constant supply of energy to "receiving stations" on Earth by laser or microwave transmission.
The proposed "Luna Ring" would be capable of sending 13,000 terawatts of power to Earth. In 2011, the United States generated just 4100 terawatts of power, the company says.
"A shift from economical use of limited resources to the unlimited use of clean energy is the ultimate dream of mankind," Shimizu says in the proposal on its website. "The Luna Ring ... translates this dream into reality through ingenious ideas coupled with advanced space technologies."
Until March 2011, and the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant, Japan had relied heavily on nuclear power.
Shimizu first came up with its Luna Ring proposal before the accident at Fukushima, but the continuing crisis means the scheme is attracting renewed interest.
The company is reluctant to put a price tag on the construction costs involved but, given adequate funding, it believes construction work could get under way as early as 2035.