Quantcast

This Must-See Documentary Shows the Future of Solar Power Is Here Today

Renewable Energy

By Emily J. Gertz

Filmmaker Shalini Kantayya set out to show that climate change isn't all gloom and doom. The result, Catching the Sun, ably makes that case, but may still leave you inspired and infuriated in equal parts.

This fast-paced and compelling documentary, which premieres today in New York City and in cities nationwide during April, follows a diverse group of job-seekers, activists, politicians and entrepreneurs as they tap into the world's growing solar power economy.

This fast-paced and compelling new documentary follows a diverse group of job-seekers, activists, politicians and entrepreneurs as they tap into the world's growing solar power economy. Photo credit: Catching the Sun

Kantayya jumps between nations that have unequivocally adopted policies to speed up adoption of renewables and more fitful efforts here in the U.S. to expand solar energy—from a program in Richmond training unemployed men and women to become solar panel installers, to a “Green Tea Party" member and energy independence advocate working both sides of the halls of power in Georgia.

The sharpest contrast comes in the paralled stories of two young visionaries: American activist Van Jones and Chinese entrepreneur Zhongwei “Wally" Jiang.

Jones, the founder of the group behind the Richmond solar jobs training program, finds himself recruited by the Obama administration in 2009 to take similar efforts nationwide. We follow him across the country and into the White House, where his work—and a potentially revolutionary climate and clean energy bill in Congress—attract powerful right-wing attacks that leave Jones bewildered and politically vulnerable.

Filmmaker Shalini Kantayya. Photo credit: Catching the Sun

Jiang, meanwhile, describes how he has risen from rural poverty to running a solar business employing thousands. He travels the world making enormous solar power deals and has set his sights on a "dream" project: a vast solar park in rural Texas. Jiang's ambitions never seem unrealistic, because they are fueled by something just as powerful as his personal vision and drive: the regulatory certainties in nations like China and Germany, which have unequivocally set ambitious goals for adopting renewable energy.

The mixed government signals on clean energy in the U.S. don't seem to overcome Jiang's personality or, perhaps more importantly, his professional resources: By the film's end he is closing in on his Texas solar dream.

But they leave some of the newly-trained solar power technicians in Richmond grappling with an uncertain job market and still fighting the centrifugal force of chronic poverty.

The impacts of continuing to burn fossil fuels—from shrinking ice at both ends of the Earth, to month-on-month record-breaking temperature highs worldwide—are accelerating. The need to expand renewable energy couldn't be clearer. Catching the Sun shows that the technologies to make that happen are proven, but the political will remains in doubt.

Watch the trailer here:

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

David Suzuki: Tapping Earth's Abundant Geothermal Energy

Is Rooftop Solar Cheaper Than Buying Electricity From the Grid?

Symbolic Victory for Clean Energy as North America's Largest Coal-Fired Power Plant Will Soon Be Home to a Solar Farm

Climate Model Predicts Melting of West Antarctic Ice Sheet Could Double Sea Level Rise

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Yulia Lisitsa / iStock / Getty Images

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

Many people follow the lacto-vegetarian diet for its flexibility and health benefits.

Read More Show Less

By Jared Kaufman

Eating a better diet has been linked with lower levels of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. But unfortunately 821 million people — about 1 in 9 worldwide — face hunger, and roughly 2 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese, according to the U.N. World Health Organization. In addition, food insecurity is associated with even higher health care costs in the U.S., particularly among older people. To help direct worldwide focus toward solving these issues, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals call for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and undernutrition by 2030.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
Healthline

Made from the freshly sprouted leaves of Triticum aestivum, wheatgrass is known for its nutrient-dense and powerful antioxidant properties.

Read More Show Less

mevans / E+ / Getty Images

The federal agency that manages the Great Barrier Reef issued an unprecedented statement that broke ranks with Australia's conservative government and called for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Guardian.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

A powerful earthquake struck near Athens, Greece and shook the capital city for 15 seconds on Friday, causing people to run into the streets to escape the threat of falling buildings, NBC News reported.

Read More Show Less
U.S. government scientists concluded in a new report that last month was the hottest June on record. Angelo Juan Ramos / Flickr

By Jessica Corbett

As meteorologists warned Thursday that temperatures above 100°F are expected to impact two-thirds of the country this weekend, U.S. government scientists revealed that last month was the hottest June ever recorded — bolstering calls for radical global action on the climate emergency.

Read More Show Less
Rod Waddington / CC BY-SA 2.0

By John R. Platt

For years now conservationists have warned that many of Madagascar's iconic lemur species face the risk of extinction due to rampant deforestation, the illegal pet trade and the emerging market for the primates' meat.

Yes, people eat lemurs, and the reasons they do aren't exactly what we might expect.

Read More Show Less