Solar energy is considered by many an attractive and practical option for America's energy future, one that is technically and commercially feasible as well as socially and environmentally desirable. Sun-generated power could meet upwards of 20 percent of U.S. energy needs by the year 2000—but only if there is a concerted national effort to use this energy option. The issues of implementation and the public and private initiatives needed to facilitate a transition to extensive use of solar energy are the focus of this volume. The solar transition is addressed from the diverse perspectives of the many necessary participants: industries and small businesses; local, state, regional, and federal governments; public utilities; policy analysts; and solar advocates. The contributors assess the extent to which solar alternatives can replace and augment other energy forms, the pace and pattern for solar commercialization, and the roles of public and private institutions in carrying out the transition. A consensus becomes apparent: Although the transition to solar energy is technically and commercially viable, its success depends on concerted public and private efforts to promote innovation and diversification in energy production and distribution and to institute major changes in public policy related to energy use.
Introduction -- Environmental Benefits of a Solar World -- Planning the Solar Transition -- A National Strategy for Solar Energy: The Role of the Domestic Policy Review -- National Politics and the Solar Energy Transition -- California: Energy Policies and Renewable Energy Strategies -- The Role of Utilities in Promoting Solar Energy: The Case of the TVA -- Industrial Decision-Making for Solar Energy Development -- Small Business Ventures and Solar Energy Development -- Solar Energy Commercialization Strategies -- The Solar Energy Transition as a Problem of Political Economy