Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Russia prepares lunar program to recover energy resources

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."AC Clarke third law.

As I suggested in prescient prescriptions for innovation,sometimes innovation is indistinguishable from magic,significant change is unlikely to come about through incremental improvements to existing technology. Just as Edison's incandescent light bulb was not born from improving the candle, future technologies are likely to bear little resemblance to today's tried-and-true methods.Indeed a quantum leap is what sends the world forward in growth and technological progress.The quantum leap in IT as evidenced from the Apollo project was one forward path.

The ascendency of the presidency of the G8 by Russia this year set out a number of goals and prescriptions for the future,the two majors being energy and scientific innovation both being intrinsicialy linked.Over the last 6 months various signals on innovation in both energy and science have been released by the Russian government including major investments in both sectors.

Recently we have seen the creation of special scientific zones in the Russian Federation with tax and investment incentives and both government and business funding and investment from the Russian stabalization fund.

One last week was the announcement from President Putin on investment on nanotechnology and the input of 500mUS for development of various innovative products.Today in a parallel anouncement Norilisk Nickels announced the purchase of US company plug power through its vehicle Smart Hydrogen for a price of 241mUS.

Russia has also announced the expansion of its space program with a 10b us investment ,with the construction of the Klipper shuttle and lunar operations.

Russia is preparing to launch an ambitious lunar project which could provide access to alternative energy resources, a company involved in the project said Tuesday.

"The lunar project is aimed at recovering resources such as helium-3," said Nikolai Sevastyanov, the president and chief designer of leading Russian spacecraft-maker Energia. This isotope could be used to produce fuel when the earth's own energy resources become depleted.
The program could also be used to transfer environmentally hazardous, energy-consuming production facilities to the moon, the official said.
It will take an estimated $2 billion to implement the first leg of the project and another $40 billion to implement the second, Sevastyanov said.
The initial phase, to be implemented in 2010-2015, will involve Soyuz spaceships, Soyuz-FG and Proton launch vehicles, and DM-type boosters.
"The Russian segment of the International Space Station could be used as an assembly site for an inter-orbital space complex bound for the moon," he said.
The next stage, set for 2015-2020, will focus on the construction of a transportation system for ferrying people and supplies to and from the moon.
"It will involve manned spacecraft based on [Russia's next-generation reusable shuttle] Clipper and inter-orbital trawlers propelled by liquid-fuel jet engines. Trawlers using electric propulsion will be employed to transport heavy payloads," said Sevastyanov.

Helium 3 is to be used in energy production in fusion reactors being developed by ITER.One shuttle load of enriched helium3 would supply North America for 1 year.

Why the Moon? In fact, it will play an important role in the future global energy system, which will be based on controlled thermo-nuclear fusion. And this is easier to attain using helium-3 isotopes, which are difficult to obtain on Earth, but abound on the Moon.
Delivering helium-3 from the Moon to the Earth will obviously be a formidable technical task. This objective cannot be accomplished in a year or two, which means manned spacecraft will be indispensable. Interestingly, this task is even more important and less expensive than an expedition to Mars.
The first step is to build a large orbital spaceport to launch and receive reusable lunar craft, which will be assembled and repaired in near-Earth space. It will therefore be possible to deliver mining equipment to the Moon to extract helium-3 isotopes.

Russias goals and objectives for energy security are not for the short term but for the future.


Blogger K1 said...

Perhaps this is understandable since they seem to be having some 'issues' on planet earth. What do you make of this article?
From http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20060421/46808586.html
Gazprom owns up to gas shortfall

Russian energy giant Gazprom openly conceded Thursday that it had little natural gas left and in a few years' time Russia would not be able to meet the demands of all consumer countries.
In the view of its deputy head Alexander Ryazanov, constraints will most likely hit those paying non-market prices, i.e., Russian consumers.
Before commercial production begins on the northern Yamal Peninsula (which at best can occur in 2012-2013), the gas monopoly has no serious resources to compensate for the declining output of extensive fields that have been in operation since Soviet times. Ryazanov even said Gazprom had the unprecedented intention to pipe the resources of independent producers, such as LUKoil, TNK-BP, Novatek, and even Yukos. By 2010, these companies can boost output by 45-55 billion cubic meters in the Nadym-Purtazovsky region - the principal incubator for new fields. However, the necessary pipeline capacity will become available only in three years' time.
What Ryazanov classifies as the last largest deposit (with an annual output of over 25-30 billion cubic meters) in the Nadym-Purtazovsky region - the Yuzhno-Russkoye field - will go into operation in 2008. The monopoly will then be left only with reserves that are difficult to develop (the Achimovsky deposits of the Urengoi and Zapolyarny fields contain wet gas with a high percentage of heavy hydrocarbons), which call for special technologies and specific outlays, as well as Yamal resources. They have been in the planning stage for years and require at least $80 billion in capital costs.
Vladimir Milov, the president of the Energy Policy Institute, said that fuel shortages would only become worse. "Gazprom's top managers have not acknowledged gas shortages so openly before," he told the paper, "even though experts pointed to low-running levels three years ago. Now Russia is facing huge problems: the shortages will become greater, most evidently at consumption peaks, or in winter when supplies will be cut."
"Not only Russia, but everybody down the line, will suffer," Milov said. "Gazprom has wasted 15 years over Yamal without investing."


7:45 PM  
Blogger maksimovich said...

The are other factors here involved with the increase of prices to the FSu satellites such as the Ukraine and Moldavia etc.In addition there are factors with the domestic price requirements from the EC-us fo entry into the WTO.

The actual reporting seems to lose a bit in translation ,as the article actually relates to investment requirements for Gazprom for the next 12 years.

The shortfall are only for excess surplus gas that would be available for Europe.Here we see some politics involved due to the UK restricitons on investment by Gazprom in Centrica and scotish power.

Gas shortages are defintely not the problem or reality for the next 150 years.The Shtokman field alone would supply the UK and Germany for the next 45 years.The partnership announcement is yaet to be announced and I would suggest Norway Hydro is the prime player.

There are similar fields in central Siberia that are not mentioned.

In the interim a 25 year jv announcement between Turkmenistan and Gazprom is 50bcm.

Gazprom is still the largest energy company in the world and is expected to have a value of 1 trillion by 2012.

11:29 PM  

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