The Sun Kings
The Sun Kings
This chapter provides a background on solar power. The first practical use of solar power was for satellites. Solar power allowed for a longer use time than batteries alone did; and with cost of secondary importance in the early decades of the space race, scientists were able to use the still-expensive technology to launch the Vanguard I satellite in 1958. In the late 1960s, scientist Elliot Berman discovered that scrap silicon from semiconductor manufacturing could be used for solar power. This discovery was backed by Exxon, which lowered manufacturing costs, and garnered significant interest in solar energy as oil prices rose after the 1973 OPEC oil embargo sparked concerns about energy security. With the solar market growing rapidly, Shi Zhengrong founded Suntech in 2001. Within a decade of its founding, Suntech became the world’s largest producer of photovoltaic solar modules—a corporate success that seemingly underscored China’s newfound dominance of the clean-tech world.
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