As this energy system comes into operation, it can be supplemented with actual space-based solar power production. The technology for all of this has already been created or, it is in the hands of entrepreneurs who will have it deployable within this decade. The 1980's DOE study found that as little of the microwave energy is absorbed by the atmosphere heating and other environmental effects are nil.
We need to understand how these powerful new technologies fit into the hydrocarbon resource constrained world of today. We need to understand how each individual technology relates to other technologies with respect to the goal of limitless energy production. I also note that all of the private entrepreneurial companies I've mentioned--SpaceX, Ad Astra Rocket Company, and Solaren Corporation, are all recent entrepreneurial start-ups. They are not (yet, at least) part of the world-wrecking corporatocracy. This means that they have no stake in maintaining the world-dooming status quo. They represent a real potential for sudden and fundamental paradigm change. By developing technologies to exploit new economic niches, they offer the possibility of undercutting the existing world-devastating corporate oligopolies. Put more simply, they offer the possibility of making obsolete forever the heavy-risk-taking oil-drillers like BP, and others. Just think of a time when we would no longer have to worry about oil spills just before hurricane season "
Under the condition of deepening existential crisis which I believe will accelerate in the next few years, a coherent vision which takes into account recently-created technological capabilities to exploit space for energy transmission and then generation purposes, could still, at this extreme hour, alter our civilization's historical trajectory decisively. I hope we will take advantage of this potential. If not, then within a few years, civilizational collapse will indeed become irreversible.
And even if collapse does occur, once the microwave reflectors are in orbit, they will be able to support power-sharing for centuries to come without maintenance, which will facilitate civilization's recovery. We would have an asset going into collapse which would allow for far flung survival communities to support one another via energy sharing, maximizing the chances of survival for all despite their geographic separation.
If civilization collapses without any ability to recover, all of the easily obtained concentrated energy sources needed to develop the high technology required to get there will be forever gone. In the ages that follow this catastrophe, space will remain forever out of reach. Our descendents will look at the stars from the ground, and from up there among them. If they ever learn how badly, and foolishly, and UNECESSARILY we threw our future away, they will curse us until the end of time.
It's still not too late--act! Make this dream a reality.
Nothing on EARTH can save us. However, something OFF of it just might!
[ii] See discussion at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power