The Solar Industry Gains Ground – And Goes Global

Fast Company Magazine writer and author of Geography of Hope, a global survey of sustainable technology, Chris Turner logged an excellent review of the solar industry.  Entitled, “The Solar Industry Gains Ground – And Goes Global” you can find the full story online.  

Here is an excerpt:

To get a sense of just how bright and sunshiny the future looks to the solar-energy industry, consider The Graph: It’s a standard affair, projecting solar’s share of global energy production over the coming century. The Graph was created by a scientific organization that counsels the German government, but it has since become a prized piece of propaganda, embedded in glossy brochures and PowerPoint presentations by solar companies from California to gray-skied Saxony. At the left-hand, present-tense end of the scale, solar power is a microscopic pencil line of gold against the thick, dark bands of oil and natural gas and coal, an accurate representation of the 0.04% of the world’s electricity produced by solar power as of 2006. The band grows slowly thicker for 20 years or so, and then around 2040 a dramatic inversion occurs. The mountain-peak lines indicating the various fossil fuels all fall steeply away, leaving a widening maw of golden light as solar power expands to fill the space. By 2060, solar power is the largest single band, and by 2100 it is by far the majority share.

This has always been solar energy’s tantalizing promise, since the first photovoltaic (PV) cells emerged out of Bell Labs in the 1950s to power space probes and ignite the dreams of a generation of giddy utopian dreamers. Solar energy is as plentiful as daylight, as limitless as organic life itself, a fuel that comes free of charge and replenishes itself every time the earth rotates on its axis. Almost all energy, after all, is ultimately stored solar power: Oil, gas, and coal were born of the ancient sunlight that fed prehistoric animals and plants, the wind is set howling by the sun’s unequal heating of the atmosphere, and even a campfire draws its warmth from solar power trapped long ago through photosynthesis. Enough radiation from the massive fusion reactor at the center of our solar system hits the earth every hour to fill all of its energy needs for a year.