Solar power’s detractors have been proclaiming that the collapse of solar panel manufacturer Solyndra proves solar is just a hippie pipe dream. But as Danny Kennedy points out, Solyndra’s downfall actually proves the opposite: the company failed because it wasn’t able to compete in a red-hot industry, not because solar isn’t ready for prime time. In this succinct, hard-hitting book, Kennedy proves that solar can save money, create jobs, and protect the environment—and only politics and perception stand in its way.
Signs of solar’s ascendency are everywhere. The industry employs 100,000 people in the United States, twice as many as in 2009 and twice the number of coal miners. In 2011, Warren Buffet invested $2 billion in a solar farm, and around the time Solyndra went bust, General Electric bought a start-up solar manufacturer, announcing, “By 2020 this is going to be at least a $1 billion product line.” Production of solar-generated electricity rose by 45 percent in the first three quarters of 2010, while electricity from natural gas rose only 1.6 percent and coal declined by 4.2 percent.
But powerful forces are still arrayed against solar power, and that’s why Kennedy wrote this book. We need a rooftop revolution to break the entrenched power of the coal, oil, nuclear, and natural gas industries (which Kennedy calls King CONG) and their bought-and-paid-for allies. Kennedy systematically refutes the lies spread by CONG—that solar is expensive, inefficient, and unreliable; that it is kept alive only by subsidies; that it can’t be scaled up; and many other untruths—and shows that the solar industry can become a far greater source of jobs than it already is. Praising the pioneers who are pushing solar forward, Kennedy also decries the rampant political pandering that keeps us dependent on dirty and dangerous forms of energy. Now is the time to move away from the declining sources of the past and unleash the unlimited potential of the sun.