history in circles

Thomas Edison, 1931

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power!

“I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

NY Times/Getty: Thomas Edison holding one of the batteries used to power his early electric car, the BakerEdison, godfather of electricity-intensive living, was also an unlikely green pioneer whose ideas about renewable power still resonate today.

At the turn of the 20th century, when Edison was at the height of his career, the notion that buildings, which now account for more than a third of all energy consumed in the United States, would someday require large amounts of power was only just coming into focus.

Where that power would come from — central generating stations or in-home plants; fossil fuels or renewable resources — was still very much up for debate.