The meteoric rise of the photovoltaic (PV) industry is an incredible story. In 2013, Google’s investments in PV systems totaled about half a billion dollars, and Warren Buffet, one of the famous investors, invested US$ 2.5 billion in the world’s largest PV system in California. These gigantic investments by major financial players were made only 40 years after the first two terrestrial PV companies, Solarex and Solar Power Corporation, were formed in the USA. Back in 1973, the two companies employed 20 people and produced only 500 w of PV power. Now, just 40 years later, over a million people work in the PV industry. The worldwide capacity of operating PV electric generators equals the capacity of about 25 nuclear power plants. The PV industry is growing at an annual rate of 30%, equivalent to about five new nuclear power plants per year. Today, solar electricity is a significant supplier of electricity needs, to the extent that PV is forcing the restructuring of 100-year-old electric power utilities. This book describes how this happened and what lies ahead for PV power generation.
The audience for this book will include the rapidly increasing number of people in the PV industry around the globe, and the growing number of people, all over, who are committed to cleaner energy systems and will enter the field. This includes technically oriented as well as business-oriented people also high school as well as college students and their teachers.
- Presents what is missing from other books on solar energy, i.e., the 40-year history of the terrestrial during which an expensive technical curiosity without any market at that time was converted into a mass-manufactured product
- An interesting narrative of the history and development of solar energy, which became a significant supplier of the World’s electricity needs, to the extent that it has forced the restructuring of 100-year-old electric power utilities
- Describes how 40 years ago the terrestrial PV industry was started and how it developed the needed technology and market to be able to compete today with conventional electricity-generating systems
- Written for the newbie as well as the expert in the field
“If solar energy was to become a practical terrestrial source of electricity, the cells needed to be cheaper. One of the pioneers in that effort was a chemist named Peter Varadi. In 1973, he and fellow Hungarian refugee Joseph Lindmayer launched a company called Solarex in Rockville, Md.
“When they started, there was hardly a market for photovoltaic cells. Then customers began to emerge, mainly for applications in remote locations, off the grid.
“Solarex was profitable but short of capital, and Dr. Varadi and Dr. Lindmayer ended up selling it in 1983.
“But then, at the beginning of this century, solar came back to life. The reason was Germany. In pursuit of a low-carbon future, the country launched its Energiewende (energy transition), which provided rich subsidies for renewable electricity.
“‘Solar is growing fantastically,’ says Dr. Varadi, who chronicles solar’s rise in his new book, Sun Above the Horizon. ‘Something like this required time. Shale oil and shale gas had a ready market. When we started, we had no market at all, zero. And the industry had to get to mass production to bring down costs.’”~The Wall Street Journal
“Dr. Varadi’s book is a unique contribution to the history of solar PV, an energy technology that is transforming the way we generate and use electricity. I am unaware of any other book that addresses this history as comprehensively as this book does. It also benefits greatly from having been written by a true PV pioneer who helped create a new and critically important energy industry.”~Dr. Allan R. Hoffman, Former Associate and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Utility Technologies, U.S. DOE
“Peter takes you on a fantastic ride through the incredible growth story of modern solar energy from 1973 to the present day. And since he started it all, you are in the driver's seat! This book is a must-read for everyone in the sector but equally educating and entertaining for everyone with an interest in technology.”~Frank Wouters, Deputy Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency
“This book provides a unique perspective by one of the pioneers in the PV industry who co-founded the first company that manufactured solar cells for terrestrial applications. Although the book reviews the technology of various PV systems, it is different in that it focuses on the history of the last 40 years of the industry. Even though it is based on well-established facts and solid research, the book often reads like a novel describing the successes and failures of the people involved in the industry. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to know how the PV industry grew to this point and where it may be headed in the future.”~Dr. Denis J. Curtin, Former Chief Operating Officer, XTAR LLC, USA