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Photovoltaics Do Work

May 14, 1989

The Viewpoints page of April 30 had two well-written attempts to put the recent cold fusion excitement into perspective. However, when Michael Schrage ("It's a Big Leap From Lab to the Payoff") implied that photovoltaic technology (direct sunlight-to-electricity conversion) has failed to live up to its promise, he exposes a need for publishing the following facts:

1) Tens of thousands of photovoltaic systems are providing clean, safe and reliable electricity worldwide for a wide range of applications.

2) From 1973 to 1989, the cost of photovoltaic electricity has dropped from $15 to 30 cents per kilowatt and will reach 12 cents per kilowatt by 1992.

3) Photovoltaic systems can be made small enough to fit in a calculator or large enough to equal a nuclear power plant in electricity output. (A PV system this size would only require an area of five square miles.)

The simple truth is that photovoltaic technology is fulfilling its promise of harnessing the nearly limitless energy of the sun, and will continue to do so in increasing magnitude as the world learns to appreciate the value of clean and safe electricity.

MICHAEL J. STERN

Chatsworth

The writer is president of Utility Power Group, a maker of photovoltaic power systems.

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