Beginning of the 1990s the idea was born to support the climate-friendly use of solar energy: operators of photovoltaic systems should receive a cost-covering remuneration for the solar electricity they produce. In addition to that, they should be allowed to gain a small profi – the same way as all other power plant operators do.
Energy economists ridiculed this idea at first. Politicians considered it absolutely unaffordable. Still, the idea found many followers. One community after the next got convinced that the economic reward of environmentally friendly behavior could significantly promote the use of solar power generation.
Unlike power sources that rely on fuels, photovoltaic technology will be getting cheaper and cheaper the more of it is being produced. In microeconomics this is called a “learning curve”: with every new production facility new clues are being discovered which at the same time again reduce the costs.
If, however, solar systems for solar power generation continue becoming cheaper and cheaper and the “fuel” – in that case the sun – is for free, than conclusively, the increasing use of this form of energy will also continuously become cheaper. – much cheaper in the end than coal, oil and nuclear energy, which continue increasing in price. This eliminates the central argument of all opponents of solar energy, that it would be too expensive.
After several German municipalities were convinced and their municipal utilities started paying a cost-covering remuneration to the private solar power plant operators, the true potential of this type of grant quickly became visible. The additional costs of the solar power generation were allocated to all electricity customers, so the overall electricity costs did not increase significantly despite explosively increasing solar power generation.
In the mid 90s more and more cities and municipalities joined in. at this time a group of people found together who shared the aim to give more impetus to the movement. A magazine should provide all interested parties with the information what photovoltaic actually is and how its use can be promoted by the cost-covering remuneration. 21 individuals involved their own savings in the foundation of a publishing house.
In 1996 after only a few months time for preparation, the first issue of PHOTON was published: 52 pages printed in full color with a print run of 10.000 copies. 600 people who immediately subscribed to PHOTON, as well as some advertisers had helped that the very first issue was in the black numbers. Pessimists who had predicted a failure of the “project PHOTON” were proven wrong.
From this beginning, PHOTON has become the world’s largest publishing company in the field of solar power generation. By 2012 over 180 employees in 11 offices on three continents were creating 8 monthly magazines published in 6 languages (German, English, Spanish, Italian, French and Chinese) and 5 daily newsletters; organizing worldwide conferences and trade shows; advising companies and politicians with our own consulting company; and testing solar equipment in our own laboratory.
As PHOTON started its work in 1996 (back than founded under the name of “Solar Verlag”), the annual global production of solar modules was only 1 megawatt. By 2011, this amount was produced in less than one hour. If humanity is to prevent a climate catastrophe, moving away from burning coal and oil is mandatory in the short term. To achieve this, the global solar module production should be extended to producing 1 megawatt per minute within the coming years.
PHOTON’s mission is to accompany manufacturers, installers and operators of solar power plants, but also the current customers and politicians on this way: as an independent and reliable source of information, always operating according to true journalistic principles, according to the credo of the deceased journalist Hanns-Joachim Friedrichs: «A journalist does not associate with any cause, not even a good one.» Accordingly, we remain critically and point out progress as well as the failures.
The fact that we are occasionally referred to as a «traitor», will not cease. Any other reaction would make us thoughtful.
Vision: A world worth living for all people with an intact environment.
Mission: To promote a sustainable energy supply with cheaper energy for all by providing complete and above all correct information.