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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Solar Power

Notice to world: solar power is old!

I love how as we walk down the sidewalk, and see a few Teslas, we are just blown out of the water by the incredible technology and the dynamic brain power it must have taken to put electricity from the sun into the battery of a car. How amazing, how incredible…how old.

Once upon a time there was a man named Nikola Tesla. He would just sit around in his lab, studying, creating electric coil machines no one else on the planet could think of, and trying to figure out a way to get actual electric POWER to WIRELESSLY cross the Atlantic. He wanted a tower in New York City to hit a tower in London and boom, the whole city of London would power up. Funny, what an amazing idea, right? Have you heard of it before? Well, maybe not, even though it happened over 150 years ago.

That was because at the time there was an intellectual power war going on in the United States between many different companies and brilliant scientists, including Edison. Well, Mister Edison had a certain penchant for something…money. He wanted to make a tower of THAT! While Tesla was into something we now called public domain information, aka free information like you would find in a library. Mister Edison was more into IP…intellectual property. Something he could license, sell to the world, and then sit on a pile of the profits created from it. So, that sets the landscape for today’s power war.

As you can see many different companies fire up battery factories around the planet, and integrate their technology into cars, homes, computers, teddy bears…we begin to wonder…why not earlier? Why did none of this happen earlier? It is such a simple idea. The sun…makes a wheel run. Well I will explain.

In economics we have a concept called resources. I know, complicated right? If you can control the resources, then you control the game…the game of economics. If you are a steel baron like Andrew Carnegie from the late 1800’s, and you can make the best steel for the cheapest price, you control the best building resource in the world, so he was able to control the building game, although he did not particularly abuse it. If you are a man like William Randolph Hearst and you control the wood mills in the central Northwest of the USA, you can control the paper industry because paper is made from wood. Hence Hearst was able to suddenly begin buying things like newspaper companies because he was able to say: “Guess what, if you don’t pay my asking price, I will give a cheaper price to your competitor and he will then control the newspaper game in your market and you will be driven out of business!” In fact, Hearst was such a colossal bad guy, that he would even set policy at newspaper companies, deciding the types of people that got hired and fired, and which political candidates the newspapers would endorse. Quite the hero.

Now the inherent issue that this planet, and let’s just keep the discussion to this planet for today, if you do not mind, is that the sun does not seem to run out. We are going to have as much solar energy as we want if we want it. But, look at what is now happening in the last few years. We are getting interested (note the sarcasm in my typing) that certain things will block out the sun, like greenhouse gases, and other things. We have even been told by people we are expected to believe are credible scientists that cow farts and cow manure create too much methane, and hence will eventually cloud the Earth’s atmosphere, block out the rays of the sun, and kill all of us because our planet’s basic ecosystem depends on it. Well, folks, if you have picked up this book, I know you have figured out that just is not true.

As you begin to read more and more about solar power in the world and think about it in relation to your own life, and maybe a house and car, just remember it is nothing new. This thing in the sky will burn forever. At least as long as we need it to.

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