Here Comes the Sun

After a slow start, solar power seems poised to light up the world -- and utilities are getting the message

Solar power was an exotic new technology when John Schaeffer graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1972 and helped start a primitive commune in the woods of northern California. But he was a tinkerer, and in his spare time he managed to rig up a solar-powered television set so he wouldn't have to miss his favorite shows. Soon Schaeffer was selling solar panels to his fellow urban refugees at a time when, he recalls, "only dope growers could afford them." Today Schaeffer's beard has become a white goatee, and his Real Goods Trading Co. has blossomed into a catalog...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!