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It was based on the idea that no significant source of novel heat energy was affecting the Earth.He believed this even though he did admit that some heat might be generated by the tidal forces or by chemical action.The solar estimate was based on the idea that the energy supply for the solar radioactive flux is gravitational contraction.
His result was in close agreement with his estimate of the age of the earth.
This week, Cherry Lewis of the University of Bristol presented a talk about the history of dating the Earth as part of the BA Festival of Science in York, England.
Before so-called radiometric dating, Earth's age was anybody's guess.
Of course, Kelvin formed his estimates of the age of the Sun without the knowledge of fusion as the true energy source of the Sun.
Without this knowledge, he argued that, “As for the future, we may say, with equal certainty, that inhabitants of the Earth cannot continue to enjoy the light and heat essential to their life, for many million years longer, unless sources now unknown to us are prepared in the great storehouse of creation.” This last statement was prophetic.
However, on the whole, he thought that these sources were not adequate to account for anything more than a small faction of the heat lost by the Earth.