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The idea of using mirrors to concentrate sunlight is not a new idea. It is said that, in 212 BC, Archimedes used polished bronze shields to focus sunlight, trying to set fire to wooden ships from the Roman Empire which were besieging Syracuse. Although we don't know whether this worked, the Greek navy recreated the experiment in 1973 and successfully set fire to a wooden boat at a distance of 50 metres. Leonardo da Vinci proposed the use of concave mirrors to heat water on an industrial scale.


Early CSP

Ashley Seager, author of the Guardian article about CSP, kindly sent us some descriptions of CSP in the 19th century and early 20th century that he had been sent by a reader. Relevant pages from the two source books are reproduced below. Interestingly, the chapter Can Sun-Power be Used? which is shown here (from TheWonder Book of Engineering Wonders) has the prescient subtitle: An engineering problem that will one day be of vital importance.

Two of the pictures from these books are reproduced on the page of pictures of CSP plants.

Click on each thumbnail, below, to enlarge it to the size of the screen you are using. To enlarge the image even more, move the cursor on to the image and, with Firefox, left click with the '+' cursor and, with Internet Explorer, left click the 'enlarge' button that appears on the image.

The Romance of Modern Invention
by Archibald Williams, London: C. Arthur Pearson Ltd., 1903, pp 207-212.
  The Wonder Book of Engineering Wonders, Harry Golding (Ed.), London & Melbourne: Ward, Lock & Co., 1927, pp 225-231.
romance_1   wonders_1
Title page and frontispiece   Title page
romance_2   wonders_2
Page 207: First page of chapter on Solar Motors   Page 225: First page of chapter on Can Sun-Power be Used?
Pages 208-209   Pages 226-227
romance_4   wonders_4
Pages 210-211   Pages 228-229
romance_5   wonders_5
Page 212   Pages 230-231


Last updated: 2013-08-31 (ISO 8601)