A new book by Philip Wolfe

The Solar Generation

Childhood and adolescence of terrestrial photovoltaics

Contents of the book

Here is a draft of the intended format of the book:

Contents summary


Volume I A biography of the terrestrial PV industry

1. Origins of terrestrial solar – “It will never catch on”

2. What is photovoltaics? – “Intermittent and unreliable”

3. Photovoltaic research – “Bearded tree-huggers”

4. PV business and markets – “Just a cottage industry”

5. Economics of solar – “Always much too expensive”

6. Solar applications – “No more than a niche market”

7. The solar industry – "Subsidy junkies and spoilers"

8. Geo-politics – "No strategic importance"

9. The next generation – “No serious energy contribution”

Volume II Encyclopaedia; People, organisations, events

8. Profiles of early PV companies and organisations

9. Who's who: Profiles of early PV pioneers

10. How: Research and technology

11. Where: Markets and geography

12. When: Conferences, get-togethers, prizes

Volume III Reference section

A. Acknowledgements and interviews

B. Bibliography – books, publications and websites

C. Other references

D. Detailed contents list

E. Glossary, units, conversions and standards

F. Index of photographs and images

G. Index of Graphics, diagrams and figures

H. Full index of topics, people and organisations


This is not intended to be an academic text, nor a learned treatise.


If you want to know how solar cells work, or to design PV systems, there are plenty of good publications out there.


This is the story of the birth of solar power generation on earth, and the people who believed it was worth investing their time and money in.

Background image courtesy:

Wikimedia Commons