Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Solar Energy for Tomorrow's World (1980)

The foreword to the 1980 book Solar Energy for Tomorrow's World proclaims, "A New York Times poll taken in 1979 revealed that 42 percent of the American people optimistically believed that our energy problems could be solved by solar energy in just five years. Most scientists think that's too optimistic. But whether it takes five years - or ten or twenty - they are certain that we will eventually realize what once seemed like only a remote dream."

The illustration below, from the first chapter of the book, depicts a future of harnessing the power of the sun as a solution to the energy crisis.

In the future you may expect to see many structures like this "tower of power." It captures the energy of the sun by reflecting its rays on a boiler atop a twenty-to-fifty-story structure. The heat converts the water or other liquid to steam, which powers a turbine. (Honeywell)

7 comments:

MattyMatt said...

The 50-story-high tank of boiling water, powered by mirrors, sounds charmingly Da Vincian. And also incredibly perilous.

Anonymous said...

This blog was wonderful for a few posts, but now it makes me want to kill myself.

Does anybody have any information about how to enter this world of the future today? Are there no people with money that have aggregated and created something like this?

Is the San Francisco bay area the closest we can come to this? Are NASA/Ames and Caltech/JPL the closest workplaces in this world to this shining vision of the future?

Is everybody who reads this blog a loser? Are the only people who pine for the paleo-future losers?

Anonymous said...

Y'know, they actually built one of these things- I recall seeing it on an episode of 3-2-1 Contact back in the 80's

ChurchHatesTucker said...

There's been a few of these built. See WikiP:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_tower

The Central Scrutinizer said...

Yep - have seen heliostats in real life... Obviously not a technology that will solve our energy needs at this point...

Jett Loe said...

Wow - the prediction was spot on!

Power station harnesses Sun's rays

Brandy said...

Yeah, Rocketdyne was building one, and started a second one while owned by Boeing.

They called it Solar Two, and the next one is Solar Tres, and is being built for Spain.

Solar One was a 'learning experience' I don't think anyone was killed, but those files were not kept in my domain...