Saturday, September 20, 2008

Two Solar Must-Have Books

Purchasing a solar power system for home or business is not an impulse buy. At least not yet, anyway. In fact, early adapters of relatively new technologies do a fair amount of their own due diligence before taking the Big Step.

There are two books I've read and refer to often. They keep me excited about the very wonder of photovoltaics and the boundless future of the industry.

The first is From Space to Earth: The Story of Solar Electricity by John Perlin (Harvard University Press, 2002). Since reading it in 2004, I've found Perlin to be perhaps the foremost PV maven of solar power. As the title would imply, it's a history of photovoltaics from Roman times to the near-latest in crystalline and thin-film technologies. (I say near-latest as PV and CPV--concentrating photovoltaics--have been improving, of course, since '04.) Well-written and understandable, From Space to Earth tells solar triumphs that have already solved energy problems in both the developed world and the Third World.

Perlin talks about how Australia was able to electrify the entire continent without miles of cable and towers but with microwave relay stations powered by solar. He explains how an ancient African tribe was always dependent on the women in a family to lug water daily from a river miles away just for cooking and washing. Today, underground aquifers have been tapped and water is pumped with solar power. Now there is not only enough water for daily living but enough to grow crops for the tribe and to take to market creating a micro-economy that had never existed. In both cases, solar power negates the need for expensive infrastructure to be built.

The other book I recommend is Exponential Solar--The Future of Solar Energy (IPESsol Inc., 2007). Written by engineer Dave Heidenreich and his staff at Innovative Power and Energy Storage Solutions in Ohio, the book parallels the computer's transformation of the world beginning in 1958 to with the potential for solar power in the next 50 years. The book's website,, does the best job of capsulizing its content:

"Exponential Solar is a book that will awaken you to solar's incredible potential to solve our energy supply and global warming dilemmas. Without being scholarly or highly technical, it presents fascinating concepts gathered from a variety of energy disciplines that clearly show how solar could grow to become the world's dominant power source. It is written for non-technical readers who have an interest in renewable energy, but may doubt that solar could provide a practical solution to powering cars, homes, and businesses - for themselves or for the world. Exponential Solar provides an understandable and compelling vision."

Although both books can be purchased online, check with your local library or bookstore first.


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