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Harness the Sun review by Amory Lovins (Science mag.)

Harness the Sun was reviewed in this week's issue of Science by none other than Amory Lovins, who has been a leader in challenging conventional approaches to energy production and use for more than four decades. Soft Energy Paths, published in 1977, was a visionary work that called for a break with America's overwhelming reliance on electricity generated by giant power stations burning fossil and nuclear fuels. Instead, Lovins demanded a shift toward locally-based energy systems emphasizing efficiency and the use of renewable energy resources.

Jerry Brown, in his first stint as California governor in the late 1970s, was inspired by Lovins's message. So was I, as a college senior just beginning to shape my own career directions.

In the 1980s, Lovins co-founded the Rocky Mountain Institute, where he and his colleagues have since worked to advance "the efficient and restorative use of resources to help make the world thriving, verdant, and secure, for all, forever." As Chief Scientist and Chair of the Institute today, he continues to advise heads of state while advancing innovative, pragmatic energy strategies for businesses and communities here in America.

Lovins, in his review, says: "PV panels are popping up everywhere -- not just on roofs and roadsides but in inner cities, tribal lands, and military bases. A summary of what's happening and what it means has long been overdue, and Philip Warburg's readable and engaging Harness the Sun admirably fills this need. His more than 120 interviews vividly portray the diverse motives, beliefs, styles, and methods of a host of entrepreneurs, activists, and ordinary citizens promoting American solar energy.... He breaks down manufacturing processes, explains federal subsidies, explores ways to make solar panels affordable for renters and low-income communities, describes net metering (in which customers sell solar energy back to the grid), and insightfully dissects domestic solar politics and international trade disputes."

In a nod toward impatient 21st-century readers, Lovins observes: "Warburg's graceful, diverse, wide-ranging, and well-balanced storytelling artfully fits a complex topic into 192 pages of text, which is easily digested in a sitting. That's a valuable service to a society rife with solar myths, many deliberately manufactured." And he ends by calling the book "an important and timely contribution to the public understanding of solar power."  That's high praise from this formidable force for energy sanity.