Harnessing Power from the Sun


32 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Index
ISBN 978-0-7787-2926-6
DDC j621.47





Reviewed by Sandy Campbell

Sandy Campbell is a reference librarian in the Science and Technology Library at the University of Alberta.


Of the four books in Niki Walker’s Energy Revolution series, this is the best researched and written. It deals with both the practical uses to which people put solar power, such as drying clothes, as well as the high-tech applications such as photovoltaic power plants and solar-powered cars. The section on the ancient use of solar energy gives interesting historical context.

The descriptions of solar hot-water heaters, solar ovens, passive solar heating, and solar cells are simple enough to be understood by the upper elementary target audience. Difficult words are either explained in the text or in the glossary.

The primary flaw of this work is that it is too generic for Canadian audiences. Because of our latitude, solar energy applications can be used only part of the year and the payback is much slower than in lower latitudes. The whole issue is glossed over in a single sentence: “Less solar energy is available on cloudy days and in winter, and at night it is not available at all.” While there is a map showing which parts of the world get the most solar energy, there is no explanation that hours of sunlight are not constant. There is no mention of the fact that some places have long periods of darkness or that solar collectors don’t work when they are covered with snow.

As a generic work on solar energy, this book is acceptable, but works specific to Canada would be preferable. Recommended with reservations.


Walker, Niki, “Harnessing Power from the Sun,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/32356.