RIYADH, MUHAMMAD ARABIA—The governing board of the Solar Output Power Exporting Countries announced Monday that, in spite of attempts to raise production levels, increased global-power consumption may begin to outstrip the sun's output by early next year.

A SOLOPEC collecting module.

"Our solar-accumulation arrays in Muhammad Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, and Mexico are operating at full capacity, and still, we're struggling to meet demands," said Muhammad Arabia's Prince Fayahd al-Saud, whose family has controlled the world's energy market for more than 100 years. "In a very short time, the sun will not be able to meet the world's energy needs."

SOLOPEC, formed in the '20s to regulate solar-energy prices, currently includes the sunlight-rich nations of Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Muhammad Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Venezuela, Iran, and Iraq.

The consortium supplies more than 90 percent of the world's solar energy, generating 35 billion charge-pads daily. Solar futures traded on the Newer York Exchange have risen 53 percent this year, with prices exceeding 55.6 credits per 400 ArabThermalUnit charge-pad as of June 14.

While some accuse al-Saud of engineering the shortage to increase prices, as his SOLOPEC energy embargo achieved in the '30s, al-Saud insists that production increases are not possible at any price.

"We increased quotas to actual output levels two years ago," al-Saud said. "Barring a sudden slump in demand—which is unlikely—or a series of powerful solar flares, we're looking at energy shortfalls through the next year."

With an output of 4x1026 watts per second, the sun was considered an inexhaustible energy supply when SOLOPEC was formed 30 years ago. However, if growth continues along the current trajectory, that amount will be inadequate to fuel the Cuba/Newer York/Boston megapolitan corridor as soon as 2070.

"Once again, human consumption has expanded to meet available supply," said SOLOPEC economic director Hermann Villalobos of Mexico City. "With today's fully automatic homes, artificially sentient robotic cities, 32-lane automatic roadways, floating antigrav-suspended skyscrapers, air-conditioned city-domes, and 96-inch personal fusion-screen monitors, the energy demand of human civilization has never been higher. Why, last year, the wattage requirements of leisurebots alone exceeded the entire world's energy-consumption rates of 1988. It's no surprise that SOLOPEC can barely keep up."

MIT scientist Glen Schraeder said he predicted the shortage a decade ago.

"The U.S. must reduce its dependence on foreign solar power," Schraeder said. "The sun was created billions of years ago, with the formation of our galaxy. When its unused energy output is gone, it's gone. We must look for alternative energy sources throughout the universe now."