Sun Above the Horizon : Meteoric Rise of the Solar Industry book cover
1st Edition

Sun Above the Horizon
Meteoric Rise of the Solar Industry

ISBN 9789814613293
Published May 23, 2014 by Jenny Stanford Publishing
548 Pages 98 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents


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


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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.