1st Edition

Sun Above the Horizon Meteoric Rise of the Solar Industry

By Peter F. Varadi Copyright 2014
    548 Pages 98 B/W Illustrations
    by Jenny Stanford Publishing

    548 Pages 98 B/W Illustrations
    by Jenny Stanford Publishing

    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 $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 watts 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 percent, 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.


    Act 1 DAWN 1972 - 1984

    Damn the torpedoes and full steam ahead

    Cook book: how to make solar cells and modules

    Betting on horses

    The dawn of the terrestrial PV – solarex: the beginning and...

    ... Almost a premature end

    "chevron" solar cells

    The silicon enigma

    Silicon, the second most common element in the earth's crust

    The evolution of the terrestrial PV modules - the importance of testing and quality

    Dreamers and sobering reality

    Photovoltaic systems

    "stand alone" or "off grid" PV systems

    1975 the year of change

    The importance of consumer business

    Micro-generators and …

    ... and a permanent bridge to europe

    The micro-generator mushroom resulting in a solar thin-film solution

    PV for the people

    Story about success and cash flow

    Water pumping with PV

    Navigational aids

    Amorphous silicon (a-si) the first successful thin film solar cell

    Act 2 SUNRISE 1985 - `999

    Changing landscape

    The Big Oils’ involvement in PV

    Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) and PV roofs

    Space applications used in everyday life: Communication Satellites and GPS

    Development of the global PV quality program

    World bank's trailblazing role for PV in developing countries

    Japan and then Europe take over the baton

    Three axioms that will shape the future of PV

    Does PV need government subsidy or can it be financed privately?

    Grass roots – common sense.

    Act 3 TOWARDS HIGH NOON 2000 – 2013

    The winding road to the feed in tariff (FiT)

    A new silicon enigma and thin film PV alternatives

    PV becomes unstoppable

    "The Chinese miracle" (中国奇迹) part one

    "The Chinese miracle" (中国奇迹) part two

    Concentrated, tracking and the solyndra PV systems

    The PV rollercoaster

    The last barrier: "bankability"= proof of quality/reliability

    The effect of PV on the transformation of the electric utilities

    Energy independence and the wireless environment

    EPILOGUE …………………………………………………………..525



    Annex - Metallurgical and polycrystalline silicon

    Annex - Float zone (FZ) and EFG processes

    Annex - Qualification testing of PV modules and PV standards

    Annex - Early photovoltaic pilot applications in the European Union

    Annex - US and Canadian coast guards solar modules for navigational aids

    Annex - Space solar cells conversion efficiency of light to electricity

    Annex - Satellite navigation systems in use or in development in various countries

    Annex - Regional PV manufacturing shares

    Annex - 25 year life prediction of PV modules

    Annex – PV GAP training manual covers

    Annex - China General Certification center (CGC) photovoltaic (PV) product certification

    Annex - Electricity storage systems



    Dr. Peter F. Varadi escaped from Hungary in 1956 and, after a scientific carrier in 1968, was appointed head of the Communication Satellite Corporation’s (COMSAT’s) chemistry laboratory in the US. In this function he also participated in research on photovoltaic (PV) solar cells, which were used to power satellites. In 1973 he co-founded SOLAREX Corporation in Rockville, Maryland to develop the utilization of solar cells (PV) for terrestrial applications. SOLAREX was one of two companies that pioneered this field. In 1983, it was the largest PV company in the world when it was sold to AMOCO. Varadi continued consulting for Solarex for ten years, and after that for the European Commission, The World Bank, and NREL, among other organizations. In 2004, in recognition of his lifelong service to the global PV sector and his continuing commitment to strive for excellence in the PV industry, received the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) John Bonda prize.