Why don’t we have… SUN POWER – 1953

Energy & Sustainability
Why don’t we have… SUN POWER – 1953

Make Pt1586
Interesting question, from over 50 years ago… Why don’t we have… SUN POWER Mechanix Illustrated, 1953-

Old Sol has more energy than all the atom bombs in the world lumped together. And it’s free … 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 sun’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 mankind’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 earth’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 fuel—coal, oil, wood, natural gas, etc., plus the entire supply of fissionable uranium— were set ablaze in one gigantic bonfire, it could match the intensity of the earth’s solar ration for less than three days!

12 thoughts on “Why don’t we have… SUN POWER – 1953

  1. Bliind says:

    Because while the sun puts out a whole lot of energy, converting that energy into something that we can use takes a whole lot of real estate and resources. Cost per footprint, nuclear is the way to go. People just need to stop freaking out about nuclear plants.

  2. Gerry says:

    Everyone drools about solar, but the fact is that at our distance from the Sun and under our atmosphere, solar energy is fairly weak and diffuse.

    700watts per hour per SQUARE YARD is all you can get at 100% efficiency (and most solar power systems have realistically less than 10-20% efficiency!) And if you have weather, clouds, pollution or live in a higher latitude it goes DOWN rapidly.

    Total solar wattage per square yard is a MAXIMUM LIMIT and no magical fairy dust or incantation will let you get more than that….

    You want to use solar power, you NEED to get off the planet and out of the atmosphere!


    YOU WILL PAY FOR YOUR HERESY! Where’s my whip made of 100% recycled bike tires… I know its around here somewhere…

  4. Greg says:

    One thing that Solar has over nuclear or fossil fuels is that the fuel source has a constant price…free. We’ve seen plainly what fluctuating fuel prices has done to industries that depend upon it. Utility companies are getting fed up with it as well. Nuclear still requires a bunch of fossil fuel to get the stuff out of the ground and processed. All the power sources have ongoing maintenance costs which can be estimated fairly accurately. Solar is the only one with constant fuel costs.

    I actually work in the nuclear industry and have seen first hand the redundancy, extraordinary safety precautions, and lengthy regulation involved. Nuclear power plants are safe, but when it comes down to it, they still have people operating them. People are the weak link. All the nuclear accidents we’ve had were due to errors people made. You can’t engineer those away. Nuclear has its place, but solar and other renewables need a much larger presence.

  5. Anonymous says:

    or just go with good old fashioned %100 green solar power, PLANTS. Biology figured this question out a long time ago.

    electromechanical solar power is a nonstarter except as a supplemental tech until the whole idea scaled up into space based solar collecters.

  6. Anonymous says:

    perhaps, but PV systems require a large input of fossil fuels to make the panels.

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