News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

City of Palo Alto to Co-Sponsor Event Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of Solar Energy’s Greatest Breakthrough
Contact : Diane Moss, Founding Director, Renewables 100 Policy Institute    310-457-6141
Palo Alto, CA—The City of Palo Alto and Renewables 100 Policy Institute will join together to pay tribute to the scientists who pioneered today’s thriving solar industry. The City and the nonprofit organization, which works to advance the global transition to 100 percent renewable energy, will cosponsor PV 60 - History Becoming the Future, an event that will commemorate the 60th anniversary of solar’s greatest breakthrough. The event is on April 18 at 7 p.m. at the Lucie Stern Community Center.

In 1954, Bell Laboratories scientists demonstrated to the world the first solar cell capable of converting enough sunlight into electricity to generate power. The event will honor Dr. Mort Prince, 90, who is the last living participant and designer of the 1954 original demonstration photovoltaic arrays. Prince went on to oversee the manufacturing of solar cells for the Vanguard, which was the first solar satellite that effectively launched the solar industry, and later headed the U.S. photovoltaic program under Pres. Jimmy Carter. Eugene Ralph, who worked with Prince on Vanguard’s first solar cells for space, will be in attendance as well. 

The City of Palo Alto will also be recognized at the event and awarded with the History Becoming the Future Award for its achievement in providing 100 percent carbon neutral electricity to its community. 

"Palo Alto is a living demonstration of history becoming the future" said Diane Moss, founding director of the Renewables 100 Policy Institute, which is organizing the event. “The City’s commitment to an all renewable energy electricity portfolio is remarkable, and we’re delighted to pay tribute to their bold leaders, along with the visionaries who helped make it all possible by launching the global solar industry back in the 1950s.”

Palo Alto Mayor Nancy Shepherd will accept the award on behalf of the City, one of only a handful of places around the world that is providing 100 percent carbon neutral electricity, which is achieved through solar and other renewable energy purchases and credits.

“We are honored to be the recipient of this award recognizing the City’s efforts to create a healthy and sustainable community,” Mayor Shepherd said. “The City has long been a leader in pursuing initiatives to increase our community’s environmental sustainability. Committing to using only carbon neutral electric resources is one of many positive steps the City has taken toward combating climate change.”

Attendees will have a rare opportunity to view never before publicly exhibited artifacts, including original Bell Laboratories modules, archival photos and films, and former top secret documents that chronicle solar's remarkable first 60 years. Solar historian and author John Perlin, who has helped design exhibits for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the California Energy Commission, will provide commentary based on his acclaimed new book Let It Shine: The 6000-Year Story of Solar Energy, which experts are calling the “solar bible,” and “the authoritative background story on the world solar revolution.”

For more information, please visit and click “Launch Event.”