Continuing our exploration of Kardashev Scale, this month’s blog looks at Type 2 civilizations.

What is a Type 2 Civilization?

It’s a big jump from a Type 1 to a Type 2 civilization. Whereas Type 1 civilizations are limited to harvesting all the sunlight that strikes their planet, Type 2 can utilize all the power of their system’s star.

Basically, a Type 2 or K2 civilization will have control over their entire solar system. It will be able to harness the total power equivalent of a single star.

After creating a fusion reactor, the next step for this civilization is to build a megastructure around their local star, enabling it to farm it’s almost infinite amount of energy.

 Type 2 civilizations are predicted to use 10²⁶ watts of energy. Compare this to 2×1017 watts for a Type 1 on Earth.

So how is it possible?

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Freeman Dyson developed Kardashev’s thoughts when he imagined an advanced civilization building a vast sphere around their star. This Dyson Sphere would be a machine the size of the whole solar system for capturing stellar photons and their energy.

It is predicted that in 3200 years humanity will reach this stage. Once the Dyson sphere is built space travel will become much easier and the civilization may even look to other galaxies to exploit their resources.

The Dyson Sphere

A Dyson sphere is a theoretical mega-engineering project that encircles a star with energy soaking receptors orbiting fairly close together. It is the ultimate solution for both living space and energy production. It would provide its creators ample surface area for habitation and engineering facilities.  

While such an immense undertaking is clearly unfeasible at the moment, it’s never too early to start planning! Dr. Stuart Armstrong, a researcher at the University of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, has done just that, forecasting how humanity could one day build a Dyson swarm around the Sun.

Unlike a shell-like Dyson sphere, a Dyson swarm would be composed of living habitats, satellites, and solar energy collectors orbiting like a net around a star. Energy would be transferred wirelessly between the individual components and Earth. Alternatively, millions of mirrors could be used to focus light onto a fewer number of collectors.


We have a long way to go! Yet it is obvious that if humanity could collect all the energy radiated by the sun the outcomes would be enormous. The only way to achieve this, in my opinion, is by the use of extensive robotic labor. Plus a tremendous amount of organization and cooperation!

As Freeman Dyson postulated: “One should expect that, within a few thousand years of its entering the stage of industrial development, any intelligent species should be found occupying an artificial biosphere which completely surrounds its parent star.”

References and Further Reading

How to Build a Dyson Swarm | Space    

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