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John Perlin

John Perlin
An international expert on solar energy and forestry, John Perlin has lectured extensively on these topics in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Perlin is the author of A Forest Journey: The Story of Wood and Civilization as well as From Space to Earth: The Story of Solar Electricity. Perlin mentors those involved in realizing photovoltaic, solar hot-water, and energy-efficiency technologies at the University of California-Santa Barbara, and coordinates the California Space Grant Consortium as a member of UCSB’s department of physics.

Recent posts

 

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Remember When Switzerland Ruled the World of Household-Size Solar?

In our final excerpt from his new book on the history of solar power, Let It Shine, author John Perlin describes a key moment in the debate over big, centralized solar sites and smaller, distributed rooftop panels.

 

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How Ronald Reagan Turned Out the Lights on Solar Power

In an excerpt from his new book Let It Shine, John Perlin reveals how one of the first actions of the new Reagan administration was to dim the lights on what had been a promising start for an American solar energy program. Solar in the U.S. has yet to fully recover.

 

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Solar Has Been in Our Energy Portfolio for 6 Millennia

In an excerpt from John Perlin’s new book, Let It Shine: The 6,000 Year Story of Solar Energy, the solar guru explains how making use of the sun’s energy is anything but a new technology.

 

Solyndra’s Problems Were More Politics Than Power

Analysis: Solar energy writer John Perlin argues that Solyndra’s fall from grace reflects a bad choice in technique, and not a fundamental problem with solar energy.

 

Confessions of a Nuclear Power Safety Expert

Nuclear engineer Cesare Silvi studied unlikely outside threats to nuclear plants in Italy, which soured him on the energy source and caused him to go solar.

 

At Chernobyl It Was All Under Control

Valery N. Bliznyuk was a young physicist in Kiev 25 years ago during the Chernobyl disaster. His recollections of the slow spread of accurate information about what was really happening suggest parallels with the current nuclear crisis in Japan.

 

Inventor of Plastic Solar Cells Sees Bright Future

Niyazi Serdar Sariciftci, inventor of the plastic solar cell, reviews the past, present and bright future of his invention with Miller-McCune’s solar guru, John Perlin.

 

Greener Battlefields Would Be Safer for Troops

Allied troops would be much safer if they could cut the petroleum tether, according to a chorus of military leaders and planners.

 

Busting Myths About Photovoltaics

Fresh from the European Union photovoltaic conference, our John Perlin takes on some of the misconceptions clouding the solar power movement.

 

Solar Power: America Hangs Its Head

John Perlin, sitting on a solar energy panel at the European photovoltaics conference, laments America’s lost lead in the field.

 

Europe Boasts of its Solar Power Strength

As it’s announced that thee-quarters of new photovoltaic systems are going up in Europe, it’s fair to ask what happened to the former U.S. dominance in solar.

 

Peak Wood: Nature Does Impose Limits

What lessons from the multiple experiences of Peak Wood can today’s society learn for addressing global peak oil?

 

Peak Wood Forges an Industrial Revolution

When it was no longer easy or cheap to burn trees for development, a new economy had to be forged from fossil fuel.

 

Peak Wood and the Bronze Age

The Mycenaean world was built on a solid base of bronze, but that edifice was found to have wooden feet.

 

Wood and Civilization

Wood, as fuel and building material, is the unsung hero of the technological developments that brought humanity from a bone-and-stone culture to the Industrial Revolution.

 

The Tree That Changed the World

Two planets diverged in a solar system, and the successful one took a path more wooded.

 

Make Solar Light, Not War

It’s better to light a single solar-powered streetlight than curse the insurgency.

 

Saving Sub-Sahara Africa a Drip at a Time

Rural electrification using solar energy may find a match made in heaven when linked to drip irrigation.

 

Oil and Solar Do Mix

Solar power’s portability has made it a go-to technology for projects out in the boonies, like oil production.

 

The Largest Solar Water Heater Plant is in … Denmark?

A windswept Danish island shows that solar power needn’t be the sole province of sunnier climes.

 

Saving Fuel But Melting Ice Faster

Sailing from the Atlantic to the Orient across the roof of the world has been the dream of Arctic explorers and world traders for centuries. It saves fuel, too, so what’s not to like? Well …

 

Ponderous Polluters Let a Little Light Shine in

A cargo ship that generates some of its power from the sun may shine a light on ways to reduce transportation’s dirty little secret — the world’s oil-powered fleets are hideous global warmers.

 

Soaring With the Sun

Although solar energy is often seen as a technology tied either to spacecraft or terra firma, a new generation of engineers and adventurers is crafting solar-powered aircraft.

 

Hot Idea Wins Innovation Award after Two Centuries

A greenhouse-on-the-go first described centuries ago may help fight climate change while improving Third World health.

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Do Not Tell Your Kids That Eating Vegetables Will Make Them Stronger

Instead, hand them over in silence. Or, market them as the most delicious snack known to mankind.

The West’s Groundwater Is Being Sucked Dry

Scientists were stunned to discover just how much groundwater has been lost from beneath the Colorado River over the past 10 years.

How Wildlife Declines Are Leading to Slavery and Terrorism

As wildlife numbers dwindle, wildlife crimes are rising—and that's fueling a raft of heinous crimes committed against humans.

How a CEO’s Fiery Battle Speeches Can Shape Ethical Behavior

CEO war speech might inspire ethical decisions internally and unethical ones among competing companies.

Modern Technology Still Doesn’t Protect Americans From Deadly Landslides

No landslide monitoring or warning systems are being used to protect vulnerable communities.

The Big One

Today, the United States produces less than two percent of the clothing purchased by Americans. In 1990, it produced nearly 50 percent. July/August 2014

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