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"In 1970 I found little difficulty staying 30 years ahead of the man in the street, and now I find it difficult to stay 18 months ahead of the man on the street."
- Vernor Vinge

Solar Energy Beam  
  A solar energy plant on Mercury provides power for projects all over the solar system.  

In this story, there are unusual events taking place on Mercury, right where energy is gathered for use throughout the solar system.

It begins with an enormous photocell on Mercury, which is pretty much the best place to stand on solid ground while collecting free solar power.

The control room was a wonder of clicking, chuckling, chortling, snicking gadgets. Gadgets that kept the flow of power directed to the substations on the Twilight belt. Gadgets that kept the tight beams from the substations centered exactly on those points in space where each must go to be picked up by the substations circling the outer planets.

Let one of those gadgets fail - let that spaceward beam sway as much as a fraction of a degree - Curt shuddered at the thought of a beam of terrific power smashing into a planet - perhaps into a city. But the mechanism had never failed - never would. It was foolproof...

This was really free power, easy power, plentiful power. Power carried across millions of miles on Addison's tight-beam principle.

From Masquerade, by Clifford Simak.
Published by Astounding Science-Fiction in 1941
Additional resources -

Was there another way to get that concentrated power to the outer planets?

A far cry from the day when the plant charged monstrous banks of converters to be carted to the outer worlds by lumbering spaceships.

Compare to the Near-Space Solar Energy Collectors from Olaf Stapledon's 1937 novel Star Maker.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Masquerade
  More Ideas and Technology by Clifford Simak
  Tech news articles related to Masquerade
  Tech news articles related to works by Clifford Simak

Solar Energy Beam-related news articles:
  - Solar Power Satellites Urged By Pentagon
  - Solar Satellites Beam Back Energy
  - SolarEn To Sell Satellite Solar Power
  - Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large Phased Array
  - Shimuzu Luna Ring Solar Power Project
  - China Plans Orbiting Solar Power Station

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