How many people knew that Nikola Tesla was a proponent of renewable energy? More than 100 years ago Tesla was pushing the idea that fossil fuels – most coal and oil at that time – were not sustainable resources. In an article he wrote in 1905 he offered:
“Long before this consummation, coal and oil must cease to be important factors in the sustenance of human life on this planet. It should be borne in mind that electrical energy obtained by harnessing a waterfall is probably fifty times more effective than fuel energy. Since this is the most perfect way of rendering the sun’s energy available, the direction of the future material development of man is clearly indicated.”
Yes, Tesla was into solar power even before it became fashionable.
He saw two ways in which this could be achieved – “either to turn to use the energy of the sun stored in the ambient medium, or to transmit, through the medium, the sun’s energy to distant places from some locality where it was obtainable without consumption of material.”
Of course, there were tremendous technological challenges in the year 1900 to accomplish this vision, but Tesla believed the best option “to obtain power would be to avail ourselves of the sun’s rays, which beat the earth incessantly and supply energy at a maximum rate of over four million horsepower per square mile.” He believed that “an inexhaustible source of power would be opened up by the discovery of some efficient method of utilizing the energy of the rays.”
The capture and storage technologies for exploiting solar energy would take another 100 years to reach a level of commercial feasibility, but the man who could envision an entire alternating current transformer in his head also envisioned both the need and potential of tapping the energy of the sun.
I have used the renewable energy quote in my new Facebook author’s page cover photo.