Harness the Sun: America's Quest for a Solar-Powered Future Paperback – September 6, 2016
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“Warburg’s graceful, diverse, wide-ranging, and well-balanced storytelling...[is] a valuable service to a society rife with solar myths, many deliberately manufactured...An important and timely contribution to the public understanding of solar power.”
—Amory Lovins, Science
“Harness the Sun eloquently details the role that solar can—and must—play in our clean-energy future.”
—Peter Lehner, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council
“Harness the Sun is an indispensable guide to the technologies that undergird an emerging solar revolution. It describes the businesses that will profit from it, the interests that will be disrupted by it, and the policies that could accelerate it. Phil Warburg does all this by wandering across the land, talking with workers and consumers and CEOs, and asking them exactly the questions that every intelligent, open-minded reader would want to have answered. If you are intrigued by solar energy in concept but think it is a just a futuristic option, read this book today.”
—Denis Hayes, national coordinator of the first Earth Day and former director of the Solar Energy Research Institute
“As an environmental scientist with more than thirty years’ experience, I applaud Philip Warburg for shining much-needed light on the renewable energy potential of contaminated lands. These sites can help expand our clean-energy capacity in places where industry has left a lot more than rust behind.”
—Deborah Sawyer, founder and CEO, Environmental Design International, Inc.
“Phil Warburg has invented a new literary genre: the clean energy travelogue. His trips to the places and characters behind the solar energy boom are brilliantly entertaining and informative. He has written the definitive guide to America’s solar transformation.”
—U.S. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (ret.), former chair, House Energy and Commerce Committee
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It's not that Warburg cheerleads for solar. He is honest and analytical about its problems and obstacles. But along the way, a reader learns a great deal. Perhaps the biggest breaking news for me is that there are promising ways to store solar energy during the day to generate electricity at night. I found his mix of technical details and stories about the very interesting people involved in solar to be a perfect blend. If you are not technically inclined, enjoy meeting the characters he interviews. If you are, enjoy both.
I'd be interested to see wind power (which Warburg has also written about in "Harvest the Wind"), solar, and conservation/efficiency analyzed based on their relative costs and environmental tradeoffs, but that would be outside of the scope of this book. But if Warburg had tried in "Harness the Sun" to convince me that solar (or any form of power generation) is free of such constraints, I would have stopped reading. Instead, he lays out a persuasive case that the United States has a vast untapped resource waiting to be utilized.