Interesting question, from over 50 years ago… Why donâ€™t we haveâ€¦ SUN POWER Mechanix Illustrated, 1953-
Old Sol has more energy than all the atom bombs in the world lumped together. And itâ€™s free â€¦ if we can find a way to harness it. EVER since James Watt built the first steam engine, inventors have been trying to harness the sunâ€™s heat to stoke their boilers because the sun is the mightiest heat source known to man. Every hour, it floods the earth with a deluge of thermal energy equal to 21 billion tons of coal. Every day, the sun pours more potential power upon our land areas than all mankindâ€™s muscle, fuel and working waterfalls have generated since the beginning of time.
The enormous output of solar energy is almost impossible to conceive. The sun is a monster atomic-fusion furnace, some 109 times the diameter of the earth, with a central temperature of 20 million degrees centigrade. It operates like a continuous, slow-burning hydrogen bomb generating half a million billion billion horsepower per second. As the sun is a sphere, this power radiates in all directions. Most of it flows out through interstellar space with only about half a billionth part of the total being intercepted by the earth. Of this tiny fraction, 50 per cent is reflected back into space by our atmosphere. The rest, partly reflected, partly absorbed by the earthâ€™s surface and plant life, is potent enough to maintain our globe at a livable temperature. If this segment of solar energy seems small, it is only by comparison for it has been estimated that if all our remaining fuelâ€”coal, oil, wood, natural gas, etc., plus the entire supply of fissionable uraniumâ€” were set ablaze in one gigantic bonfire, it could match the intensity of the earthâ€™s solar ration for less than three days!