The 5 Best TED Talks About Solar Energy

As the TED acronym stands for “Technology, Entertainment, and Design”, many of the topics in these conferences focus on tech and design, but there are also a number of inspiring insights into cultural and scientific matters. Driven forward by the “ideas worth spreading” maxim, TED talks (given by some of the most respected names in the world) have prompted world-changing insight and national motivation.

With so much vision to share, it only makes sense that TED talks provide an excellent platform for learning about solar energy, solar power, and the changing landscape of energy production. If you’re excited about the future of our planet – and ready to learn – check out some of the most illuminating speeches given on the topic of solar, and how they’ve helped us evolve.

1. Bill Gross – Great Ideas for Finding New Energy

This slightly older TED talk, filmed in 2003, addresses perhaps one of the most significant restrictions on the universal adoption of solar power and renewable energy: accessibility. Gross, an entrepreneur since he founded his own solar energy company in high school, talks about his life as an inventor, and his dreams for making solar energy cheap, and abundant. This talk marks the rise of a revolution to make solar power into something that is available to everyone and anyone, and since then, costs for installing panels and solar solutions have begun to fall drastically. 

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2. Donald Sadoway – The Missing Link to Renewable Energy

Donald Sadoway’s TED talk, “The Missing Link to Renewable Energy“, achieved viral status thanks to its consideration of the rising energy needs and threats the world is facing. This exploration into the energy of tomorrow emphasizes the point that storage is necessary when making the most of solar power. Sadoway suggests that the battery will be the shining star; the device that allows for a truly renewable world of natural power. Explaining how lessons he learned during his time at MIT can apply to the concept of grid energy storage, Sadoway helps provide insight into what the future of solar could hold.

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3. Bunker Roy – Learning from a Barefoot Movement

In order for a development project to be successful and sustainable, it needs to be an organic process managed by the people it serves. In other words, renewable energy goals must be actively supported by people, if they hope to survive. In the village of Tilonia in Rajasthan, India, a man called Sanjit Bunker Roy funded the Barefoot College in 1972. The educational facility provides solutions in rural communities that promote self-sufficiency in the form of solar energy, education, health care, and more. The school now teaches locals in rural villages how to find their calling as solar engineers, dentists, artisans, and doctors – and in his TED talk, Bunker Roy explains how the fascinating concept works.
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4. Dan Miller – A Simple and Smart Way to Fix Climate Change

Dan Miller’s approach to climate change shows how compassion and empathy can go a long way towards saving the planet. This talk was produced independently from the TED Conferences, for a local TEDx event; in his conversation, Miller addresses the simplest solution to climate change: involvement. His aim is to inform humanity of our responsibility to get involved, and inspire us to take actions towards facilitating solar power, environmental assistance, and renewable energy. Miller tells us that our “bystander” approach to the environment is no longer sustainable if we want to look after our planet, and society.

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5. Topher White – What Can Save the Rainforest? Your Used Cell Phone

Besides pollution from fossil fuels, deforestation ranks as one of the highest contributors to climate change. Topher White – a conservation technologist responsible for founding the “Rainforest Connection” – uses his TED talk to discuss how solar panels and old technology can protect remote areas of rainforest across the globe. Your average cell phones, powered by solar energy, can alert rangers on the ground when chainsaw sounds are detected – which often indicate illegal logging. The conversation highlights innovative use of tech and solar power to help protect our planet.

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What TED Can Teach Us

The TED talks outlined above are just some of the most inspiring videos circulating in the realm of TED discussions on solar power. As inspirational minds come together to discuss how solar energy and renewable sources of power can improve and repair the earth, we will continue to learn as a community about what we can do to protect the planet. Perhaps one of these motivating speeches will inspire you to share knowledge with others, get involved in the energy movement, or do more research in the topic; or, who knows, maybe these ideas will lead you down another path entirely. The more we know, and the more we seek to discover, the more productive action we can take for a progressive future.

Which are your favorite TED talks about solar power? Let us know in the comment section below!

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