NewEnergyNews: THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 7

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    Friday, April 18, 2014

    THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 7

    Why didn’t the silicon solar cell immediately...

    For the 60th anniversary of the silicon solar cell, PV60 – History Becoming the Future, is being organized by the Renewables 100 Policy Institute and co-sponsored by the City of Palo Alto on April 18, 2014. To join the celebration, NewEnergyNews will run, on April 18 and 19, eight questions and answers about the silicon solar cell’s history from John Perlin, the author of Let It Shine: The 6,000 Year Story Of Solar Energy.

    7-Why didn’t the silicon solar cell immediately take off?

    First, its price was an obstacle. One watt cost $286. More importantly, at the moment of the solar breakthrough, the Eisenhower Administration, to counter worldwide anti-nuclear protests, initiated the Atoms for Peace program, to give nuclear a happy face. Subsidies and funding for nuclear ran into the billions. There was no parallel Solar for Peace program despite that the Bell breakthrough happened at the same time. Selling the peaceful atom as the world’s future energy source had become America’s number one priority. The nuclear dream eclipsed any consideration of solar development. Newsweek judged "the sun's diffuse radiation" as "paltry" when compared with what nuclear could do. The best solar enthusiasts could hope for, according to the prevailing wisdom of the middle and late 1950’s, was to plan for far-off energy needs. The New York Times best articulated this point of view, predicting in an editorial, "Electricity from the atom will keep industry turning and homes lighted for centuries in the future. And the energy of the sun...will be available after the last atomic fuel is gone." click here for more

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