Anti-Solar - fact or fiction?


Engineer In Residence
Physics requires a difference in energy between two bodies, locations, etc to generate power. The larger the difference, the more power that can be extracted. The difference in radiative ( emissive temperature) energy difference between a body roughly the earths surface temperature and the sky is not very large. The atmosphere reflects some infrared back (hello greenhouse gasses).

Such devices would be significantly limited in the power they could produce.

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Expedition Leader
Such devices would be significantly limited in the power they could produce.
Seebeck generators exist. We've known for 2 centuries from the work of Peltier and Kelvin that it can work. It's how deep space spacecraft are powered, they use the decay of radioactive materials for the heat source rather than the Sun. So whether this line of technology can be scaled commercially on Earth or not, I suppose time will tell it's significance.



Used to power comms gear in arctic pipelines and space probes where solar is not super-reliable.

Very low output very expensive but very reliable, no moving parts.

Some applications in EV apparently increase mileage efficiency by 3-5%.

Cool stuff for high value edge cases, not mainstream production.

Not for running aircon unless your house has a geothermal heat source, and even then payback might be 3-4 generations compared to using mains.