Last updated on: 6/3/2014 | Author:

Ken Zweibel Biography

Former Director of the Institute for Analysis of Solar Energy at George Washington University
Pro to the question "Can Alternative Energy Effectively Replace Fossil Fuels?"

“Our idea was to provide a proof of concept that solar could meet our needs in a practical, economical fashion.

In the past, there have been doubts about economics, land area, and overcoming intermittency. We address all these problems. The central one is the path to solar cost-effectiveness, for both photovoltaics and concentrating solar thermal. The track record of these technologies and the opportunities for their continued progress suggest that they can become cost-effective with a transitional period of national incentives. Any such program can and should be designed to only support progress to cost-effectiveness, i.e., the incentive per unit output (kWh) should be reduced every year in a predictable manner (such as is being done in Germany today).

But solar needs some help. We need a high voltage DC distribution grid from the Southwest; we need compressed air storage to make it dispatchable; we need plug-in electric hybrid vehicles that shift our demand from fossil fuels to renewable electricity. Progress is being made in all these areas.

There is also room for great progress and value in smaller renewables like wind, geothermal heat pumps, and biomass for liquid fuels. All are important for our future.

In the end, the most important thing the article may contribute to is lifting the veil on alternatives to conventional energy. Are we really constrained to existing options? Is there really so little choice?

We think not.”

Comment regarding his article, “A Solar Grand Plan” in Scientific American, from the Scientific American website (accessed Dec. 8, 2008)

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Founding Director, Institute for Analysis of Solar Energy, George Washington University, 2008- Apr. 2013
  • Co-founder, Former President and Chairman, PrimeStar Solar, Inc.
  • Member, World Technology Network (WTN)
  • Former Program Leader, Thin Film PV Partnership Program, 2006
  • Former PV R&D Program Manager, Solar Program, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), US Department of Energy
  • BS, Physics, University of Chicago, 1970
  • Ken Zweibel has almost 30 years experience in solar photovoltaics
  • He retired as Director of the Institute for Analysis of Solar Energy at George Washington University in Apr. 2013
Quoted in:
  1. Is Solar Power Production Environmentally Friendly?