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Solar Is Not An Infant Industry (So why is it perpetually hyped and subsidized?)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- October 6, 2009

“In an 1878 letter, [John] Ericsson concluded that ‘the fact is . . . that although the heat is obtained for nothing, so extensive, costly, and complex is the concentration apparatus that solar steam is many times more costly than steam produced by burning coal.’”

– Wilson Clark, Energy for Survival: The Alternative to Extinction (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1974), p. 364.

Renewable energy, particularly wind and solar, are packaged as “new” and “the energy future.” But on close inspection, as the quotations below will show, these technologies are very old and have had many decades of application.

And as sure as the sun shines, solar and wind fail the economics and product-quality tests as dilute, non-stored, intermittent energy sources. And why amid a boom in fossil fuel supplies–a stock of energy from the sun’s work over the ages–would one chose a far more costly and unreliable energy source from the sun’s weak flow?…