Esteemed alumnus Thomas Baer has been making the rounds on campus, visiting the I&E class and delivering a nice Science Hall Colloquium earlier today (here’s his bio). Dr. Baer gave a rundown of his perspective on renewable energy technologies, particularly solar energy, and even more particularly solar energy made with silicon.
I’ll spare you the details of the role of photonics (since I didn’t quite understand those details), but I will second his recommendation of David MacKay’s excellent Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air. I bought several copies of this and generally loan them out to anyone interested in energy policy. Indeed, I was working with another colleague on developing a course around the book prior to moving to Lawrence a couple of years back.
If you haven’t borrowed my book already, you can download a copy here.