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Sun Above the Horizon: Meteoric Rise of the Solar Industry Paperback – May 23 2014


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About the Author

Dr. Peter F. Varadi escaped from Hungary in 1956 and, after a scientific carrier in 1968, was appointed head of the Communication Satellite Corporation's (COMSAT's) chemistry laboratory in the US. In this function he also participated in research on photovoltaic (PV) solar cells, which were used to power satellites. In 1973 he co-founded SOLAREX Corporation in Rockville, Maryland to develop the utilization of solar cells (PV) for terrestrial applications. SOLAREX was one of two companies that pioneered this field. In 1983, it was the largest PV company in the world when it was sold to AMOCO. Varadi continued consulting for Solarex for ten years, and after that for the European Commission, The World Bank, and NREL, among other organizations. In 2004, in recognition of his lifelong service to the global PV sector and his continuing commitment to strive for excellence in the PV industry, received the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) John Bonda prize.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An excellent new book on the history of solar energy July 7 2014
By Allan R Hoffman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Peter Varadi's new book is a unique and valuable contribution to the history of solar energy authored by a true solar energy pioneer. In 1973 he co-founded SOLAREX Corporation, Rockville, MD (USA) to develop the utilization of solar cells (PV) for terrestrial applications. As someone who is intimately familiar with the development and deployment of renewable energy technologies for many years, I can nevertheless say I learned a great deal from Peter's book that I did not previously know about the PV industry’s early years and its subsequent expansion into a critical part of the world’s current and future energy system. I recommend it highly.
Would he have done all this had he been born in the USA? Jan. 9 2015
By Stephen C. Baer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This account by one of the 1972 founders of Solarex Corporation is essential reading for all interested in photovoltaics. Varadi and Joseph Lindemayer left Hungary after the troubles of 1968 and went to work for Comsat, the US Government Satellite Company. In 1972 the two refugees from Hungarian communism, taking advantage of American capitalism formed Solarex. Varadi organized the business and Lindemayer the technology. Varadi may have handled the business but he is not ignorant of technical matters. There is a gap Varadi and Solarex planned to fill we Americans might puzzle over. Why the initial disinterest in our use of solar electricity on earth? Why so little interest outside of the “big picture” (our utilities) which enchants the US Government and our large corporations? Small uses of solar electricity interest Varadi. He wishes to keep the battery on his Chesepeake Bay boat charged and sees a market (it is slow to develop) for such. One of his first inquiries is tiny PV panels to charge wrist watches. He is interested. He wishes to earn a living, to keep Solarex alive. The same for Edmunds Scientific and the solar cube demos with their tiny fans. What a welcome change his “small time concerns” are from the pompous stagnant big picture. Bless the woman who calls seeking a PV demo. Varadi has an understandable skepticism of Government as he grew up in communist Hungary. This, to me made Varadi and Solarex immediately appealing and the best of America. They raised money from their friends. At the same time they visited many venture capitalists who didn’t invest or impress Varadi – more “big picture” people.
The book is too rich in accounts of business meetings for me. I don’t need to know in such detail the lunches and dinners. Though I’m glad to learn that in Geneva when there are 5 chairs, one with a pillow that’s the chair for the dog.
Water pumping in the Sahel and Sahara are particularly interesting to Varadi and his wide ranging curiosity and experience make these chapters of great interest. I want to mine Varadi and Solarex for the last details of technology, money, world economics, and international power but keep finding he has no secrets beyond the courage to try. We already know what to do, but lack Varadi’s courage to do it.
I wish Varadi had an editor. Does Pam Stanford publishing do without editors? Varadi repeatedly and flagrantly misuses the word quality. The phrase “quality panel” needs an adjective. Good quality, bad quality? Quality is an adverb not an adjective. Varadi uses quality as an adverb when he wants. Technology, economics, and language are of great importance using words correctly is as important as connecting wires the right way.
What innovators Lindmayer and Varadi were, staking everything on polycrystalline rather than single crystal PV panels.
For me single crystal vs polycrystal is an essential distinction as between plain meat and processed salami. At the close of the book Varadi visits China to which he carries a huge “pick” salami in his suitcase. This because he says he stopped exploring new foods in Hungary at 5 and is overwhelmed by novel Chinese meals. Does Joseph, the creator of polycrystal PV, a salami of crystals, also travel with a huge pick salami?
The chapters on satellites, on the use of PV to charge the batteries on satellites are riveting. Always, Varadi distinguishes terrestrial PV, what Solarex builds for from space PV. For Solarex price is everything in space price is of little concern. Varadi understands these two separate markets and is generous and knowledgeable about both. His explanation of GPS satellites, communication and the nuts and bolts of energy are fascinating. It is the revelations of someone who knows essentials about things to come and the anticipation of man’s success that fascinate. Varadi is fluent in German, English and of course Hungarian this gives him an edge, even more important for me is his skepticism of big government and the “big picture”.
I’m still uncertain about reading his two other books “comrades, mistakes were made” and his book – on 1944 will they disappoint with failures such as his with “quality” and our English language. And are we now all helpless “comrades in a new world order” whose structure will only change when we finally realize the promise of PV and the accomplishment of men like Peter Varadi.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A book to be read by everyone June 25 2014
By Helene B - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Before I opened this book - which a friend strongly recommended - I knew very little about anything solar. My curiosity was peeked
and when I started reading it I could not put it down. First, because it was so easy and understandable to read and also it was
witty and so much of what we don't know or take for granted was amazingly revealed.
This book is a must for everyone who wants to understand what is around us and know how we live today with so much
that we don't know .
This is also a book for students to discover the world around us.
Down and Dirty in the Green July 11 2014
By Walter J. Boyne - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fascinating insight you will not get elsewhere


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