Solar power has come a long way since The New York Times declared in its April 26, 1954 issue that the firstmodern Solar PV panels represented “the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams – the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.”
Solar cell efficiency has risen from a measly six percent in the 1950’s to thirty percent today, installations are on the rise – 76 percent in 2012 alone, and the price per kilowatt-hour is beginning to reach grid-parity in countries around the world.
Some may say that these statistics don’t live up to The New York Times’ aggressive claim put forth nearly half a century ago, but, in fact, today their words ring as true as ever.
The invention of the modern Solar PV panel truly did represent the beginning of a new era, and while that era may seem to have had a slow start, that fact does not belittle the transition nor mean that it is over by any means.
In fact, solar power’s slow but steady adoption, despite what has sometimes been overwhelming pushback from utilities and the oil industry, is a testament to the solar industries commitment to, as The New York Times so eloquently put it, “one of mankind’s most cherished dreams.”
Such a powerful dream cannot be destroyed by any amount of lobbying or legislation (though the right legislation can certainly help). From providing electricity to rural hospitals around the world to lowering your electric bill and reducing your carbon footprint, solar has the power to change the world for the better.
So as the oil barons scheme to misinform and prevent the realization of limitless energy in order to line their own pockets with no concern for our environment, our resolve only strengthens. We not only have the moral authority, but the facts, know-how, and increasingly, the economic viability to make the full transition to solar a reality.