Solar energy, once a niche application for a limited market, has become the cheapest and fastest-growing power source on earth. What's more, its potential is nearly limitless. But in Taming the Sun, energy expert Varun Sivaram warns that the world is not yet equipped to harness erratic sunshine to meet most of its energy needs. And if solar's current surge peters out, prospects for replacing fossil fuels and averting catastrophic climate change will dim.
Innovation can brighten those prospects, Sivaram explains. Financial innovation is already enticing deep-pocketed investors to fund solar projects around the world. Technological innovation could replace today's solar panels with coatings as cheap as paint and employ artificial photosynthesis to store intermittent sunshine as convenient fuels. And systemic innovation could add flexibility to the world's power grids and other energy systems so they can dependably channel the sun's unreliable energy.
Unleashing all this innovation will require visionary public policy: funding researchers developing next-generation solar technologies, refashioning energy systems and economic markets, and putting together a diverse clean energy portfolio. Although solar can't power the planet by itself, it can be the centerpiece of a global clean energy revolution.
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"Think of the world of 2050. It could be a polluted world of droughts, floods, and heat waves. It could also be a solar world, with carbon emissions stored or used in industry. Varun Sivaram, a senior adviser to Los Angeles' mayor, reviews the hurdles in both policy and the technology itself as he offers glimpses of a brighter solar future. Narrator Barry Abrams captures the author's enthusiasm as he tours the world's solar projects, visiting India, Germany, Mexico, and the Mideast. Abrams appropriately tempers his cheerful narrative with a cautionary tone reflecting the research and investment that are still needed. Sivaram goes heavy on details of financing and science that bog down at times. Those details are important, though, for shaping the future. J.A.S. © AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine"
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