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Jenny Stanford Series on Renewable Energy

Sun Above the Horizon

Meteoric Rise of the Solar Industry

by Peter F. Varadi

“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
  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 9789814463805
  • Series: Jenny Stanford Series on Renewable Energy
  • Subject: General Environmental Engineering
  • Published: May 2014
  • Pages: 548