Thomas Edison said these words to Henry Ford almost 80 years ago. And today, solar energy generation produces 0.1% of the energy used in the United States for electricity, heating, and transportation. Solar technology has come a long way, and yet we are quite far from what Edison envisioned becoming as widespread as his most famous inventions.
If the harnessing of sunlight is to become the cheapest form of energy,the easiest and quickest to install, and the safest, most dependable, and durable power source, we will need to achieve significant technological breakthroughs in solar energy collection, conversion, manufacturing, installation, operation, and upgrading.
An article in the May 2010 issue of Future Photovoltaics (www.futurepv.com) lays out one path to make solar a mainstream power source within one human generation. Capitalizing on the revolutionary achievements attained by the semiconductor, LCD, and microsystems industry, this article presents a way to put solar collection devices on almost anything and everything: open landscape, large built structures, vehicles, consumer gadgetry, and even the human body.
V. Gupta, J. Cruz-Campa, M. Okandan, G. Neilson, Microsystems-Enabled Photovoltaics: A Path to the Widespread Harnessing of Solar Energy. Future Photovoltaics (2010).