Book Reviews of Solar Dividends

A thought-provoking idea if ever there was one!

BILL McKIBBEN, author The End of Nature

Stayton’s thought-provoking, well-researched work has the power to draw the attention of anyone, of whatever political persuasion, who is seriously interested in global energy issues and their implications for our future.


Robert Stayton has a wonderful new idea in this book. For years, some visionary people have been promoting a universal basic income, but they have been defeated by the problem of financing: who will pay for it? Stayton has the answer. The sun belongs to us all, and solar energy will pay for it. It is an idea worth very broad consideration.

JOHN ISBISTER, Professor of Economics Ryerson University

Achieving viable paths to climate stabilization must be the first economic priority of all humanity until the job is really, truly done. Solar Dividends lays out one critical approach: a program to deliver both abundant clean energy and decent basic incomes to every human being on earth. Robert Stayton explains with both insight and verve how we can realistically avert a climate disaster and achieve a more just and equal global society.

ROBERT POLLIN, Distinguished University Professor of Economics and Co-Director, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Although the scope of the project seems massive and perhaps unachievable at first, the evidence and organization of the text itself makes several compelling arguments about the possibilities of solar power and how a revolution of sorts could definitely be achieved in the near future. Stayton’s writing is confident and clear, with definitions and explanations that any reader can access and build upon their knowledge of how energy production, commerce, and social issues could come together in such a productive way. Overall, Solar Dividends is an essential read to open the audience’s mind to new possibilities about changing the fate of our ailing planet and is highly recommended for its hopeful and practical vision of a better tomorrow.


This book is an amazing and viable proposal to address both climate change and guaranteed income. While various people running for presidential office have touched on or even advocated a guaranteed income, no one seems to have details about how it might come to pass. This book provides a blueprint of how to monetize solar energy as income for all and vastly improve our approach to climate change. Although there are some technical issues still to be resolved with solar, this book outlines how we might change. The first half of the book is an analysis of what a solar-based income would change about the economy. The second half is a proposal for getting started on the project. Big ideas sometimes start with quiet voices. This book is a concrete proposal for changing the energy industry, the economic system, and addressing climate change.

GAIL STYGALL, Professor, University of Washington

Stopping climate change and enacting a universal basic income may seem like very different goals, but Robert Stayton presents a compelling case for how we can achieve both together. Solar Dividends is a big idea we should be seriously discussing as we take on the complex challenges of the 21st century.

JIM PUGH, Co-Founder of Universal Income Project

The agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, and the digital revolution all led to a small number of people becoming immensely wealthy. Robert Stayton’s plan would make sure that the solar revolution produces the opposite — a fairer, more equitable society.

DENIS HAYES, Founder of the Earth Day Network

I hope the book catalyzes an extended conversation about how to marry the urgent environmental need for a 100 percent renewable future with the urgent social need to guarantee a basic income to all.

DR. DAVID MORRIS, co-founder and vice president of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Climate change and income security are the two great challenges facing our world, with the impact of global warming and new technology. This book offers a bold and original way to link solutions to both–massive investment in solar energy and unconditional Basic Incomes for all. The argument for how the former could, over the present century, come to finance the latter, is detailed, imaginative and far-sighted.

BILL JORDAN, author of Authoritarianism and How to Counter It

Stayton’s proposal is brilliantly straightforward yet thoroughly considered. He argues persuasively for the implementation of a solar-energy-based unconditional basic income for all human beings. This potentially world-changing book must find its way into the hands of activists, community leaders, policymakers, and government officials around the globe—the sooner, the better.

SARAH JUNIPER RABKIN, writer, editor, and retired UC Santa Cruz instructor in environmental studies

There have been many ideas on how to finance a basic income for everyone, and solve the climate crisis on planet Earth. But these have traditionally been seen as separate. Why not put them together? That is exactly what Robert Stayton has done: written a compelling argument for using solar energy to produce a steady flow of income, and then distribute it unconditionally for all people. That should work to get humanity off the fossil fuel addiction for good, and provide the dignity and freedom so many people desperately need today.

ANDRÉ COELHO, Chief Editor of Basic Income News

Robert Stayton has made a great proposal for basic income which is based on a dividend from activity which we want to encourage (as opposed to carbon dividends from what we need to discourage), and is scalable to different communities. It should be read by all interested in basic income and in protecting the environment.

BARB JACOBSON, Co-ordinator of Basic Income UK

A vital idea that has potential to disrupt the way we imagine providing both energy and decent livelihoods.

DR. KATHERINE TREBECK, Policy & Knowledge Lead, Wellbeing Economy Alliance

In Solar Dividends, Robert Stayton makes a strong case for a rather innovative way to fund a basic income, one that overcomes some of the common objections to basic income based on notions of ‘fairness’ and ‘affordability’. At the same time, Stayton’s proposal to distribute the ‘natural endowment’ of solar energy addresses a number of other pressing global challenges. While the vision is undoubtedly utopian, it is backed up with extensive research and consideration regarding the practical aspects of solar technology. An engaging and optimistic read.

DR. LUKE MARTINELLI, Institute for Policy Research, University of Bath

Solar dividends ought to play a part in a suite of positive dividend income received by all citizens in the future, unlike negative dividend income received by shareholders from harmful enterprises that make some extremely wealthy, while passing on the social and ecological costs to the rest of society. Stayton lays out this vision in a compelling read. Solar dividends can complement universal carbon fee and dividend, the Freedom Dividend and other forms of universal dividends that citizens should receive from common wealth, resulting in a robust basic income that simultaneously addresses the ecological and social crises of the 21st century.

RICHARD PEREIRA, Author of Financing Basic Income: Addressing the Cost Objection (Palgrave 2017), Economist, former Economist with the House of Commons, Canada.

A thought–provoking global plan for the future of the planet and its citizens. Robert Stayton’s concept of solar panels and energy dividends is exciting and not pie-in-the sky theory. Its a possibility that can be implemented now and for everyone exclusive of national borders or ideologies. A must read for anyone talking about climate change.

GAYLEN ROSS, award-winning film documentarian “Killing Kasztner” and “Dealers Among Dealers”

In Robert Stayton’s new book, Solar Dividends, he lays out a single solution to the two most pressing problems of our time: rising inequality and climate change. This ambitious proposal to fund a universal basic income through solar coops is an innovative approach to addressing our currently limited political will to expand government expenditures. If global poverty and climate change are to be adequately addressed in our lifetimes, it will require bold new ideas such as those laid out in Solar Dividends.

LEAH HAMILTON, Associate Professor at Appalachian State University

I think that Robert Stayton has hit on a very promising concept here with solar dividends. Of all the potential revenues sources for universal basic income, solar energy now seems one of the clearest and most compelling to me. Who should own the sun, after all? We should continue to argue about how best to implement such a system, and I’m perhaps not completely sold on Stayton’s preferred method of community co-ops, but he lays out the general principles in a way that had light bulbs flicking on above my head throughout.

CONRAD SHAW, UBI Trial Manager & Series Co-Executive Producer – The Bootstraps Project

We need solar energy and we need basic income. In this inspiring book, Robert Stayton shows how we can have both. The numbers may need some work, but the idea is brilliant.

PETER BARNES, cofounder of Working Assets/Credo and author of With Liberty and Dividends For All

We need social movements to add basic income to their toolkit. We need to treat climate chaos like an emergency. Robert Stayton’s proposal deserves to be heard. Here we see basic income and a solar powered world building each other up. His book has an unusual format that works. The first half is a fictional presentation of a future we can hope for. The planet is healed and poverty is abolished after we commit to give everyone a share of solar power. The second half shows that this world is possible. This is the sort of realistic utopian thinking that is just what we need.

JASON BURKE MURPHY, Professor of Philosophy at Elms College, and Basic Income Advocate

This book could be a game-changer for our beleaguered planet. At a time when it’s clear we must change our relationship to mother earth, what better way than to incentivize a wholesale return to solar energy from the grassroots up. Robert Stayton has laid out a realistic pathway to how we can not only wean ourselves off fossil fuels, but create a more egalitarian economy for everyone in the process. Perhaps the world’s not ready for this simple solution, but then again, perhaps we need authors like Robert to show us that it is possible to go all solar power in our lifetimes. We owe our children and grandchildren a pathway to a future where everyone can prosper without depleting our planet.

RACHEL ANNE GOODMAN, Producer/Host, Talk of the Bay

In Solar Dividends, physicist Robert Stayton lucidly explains how a massive build up of solar electricity could pay for itself, radically cut greenhouse gas emissions, and fund a universal basic income for everyone on Earth. At just 100 pages, the book is concise and fascinating.

JENNIE DUSHECK, Freelance Science Writer

This book presents a thoughtful proposal that should be considered by people interested in climate change, alternative energy, poverty, and economic insecurity.

KARL WIDERQUIST, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University-Qatar, editor of Basic Income: An Anthology of Contemporary Research

Solar Dividends is a pleasure to read. It reminds me of Bellamy’s Looking Backward, conversational narrative style pregnant with reasoned arguments and a coherent rationale for taking what I would call a compelling and viable “visionary incremental approach” to social change and social justice that intricately marries concerns about income insecurity with those of a sustainable environment. UBI advocates and Green New Dealers would benefit from adding Solar Dividends to their list of relevant readings.

DR. RICHARD K. CAPUTO, (Retired) Professor of Social Policy & Research Wurzweiler School of Social Work – Yeshiva University

This is a short book with a powerful idea! Stayton describes what first seems like a utopian dream but turns out to be a solid plan–based on real evidence and achievable incremental steps–to accelerate the shift to solar energy and simultaneously provide a basic income for all. With crystal clear writing and compelling arguments, this is a must-read for movers and shakers of any political stripe.

DR. DOUGLAS BROWN, Physics Instructor Emeritus, Cabrillo College

Physicist Robert Stayton’s solar dividends proposal is an interesting and provocative contribution to the basic income discussion. Mainstream economists will, no doubt, have questions about it, but the idea is definitely worth considering.

MICHAEL ANTHONY LEWIS, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center, teaching courses in public policy, economics, and statistics.

Stayton has a simple, brilliant, and innovative plan for generating universal basic incomes for everyone on the planet. This compelling vision addresses global poverty, income inequality and climate change in a practical way, benefitting all future generations. Solar Dividends is a must-read of positive and enormous dimensions.

JONATHAN D. BERKEY, former Peace Corps Director, Kenya; founder of International School-to-School Partnerships; and U.N. Association Board Member, Monterey Bay Chapter.

A highly original two-for-the-price-of-one approach to the funding of a basic income, one that would reduce poverty and help tackle climate change at the same time. A powerful idea that would ensure the gains from solar power are equally shared. It needs to be taken seriously.

DR. STEWART LANSLEY, co-author of Basic Income for All: From Desirability to Feasibility and A Sharing Economy

Robert Stayton has developed a strong intellectual and moral case for “Solar Dividends”, as a human right. Focusing on a single clearly defined practical solution to embolden and enable people to act, to “eat the elephant”, one bite at a time. Collectively, the entire elephant is “basic human rights”, such as food, shelter, and healthcare. I pray that this book becomes the playbook that sparks a global movement to lift up millions of underserved people across the globe.

TED TREANOR, 7 Generations LLC, clean energy champion

The idea of sharing the revenues from continuously growing PV power plants to finance a basic income is an outstanding example of a concrete utopia we need in times of societal and political crisis. It addresses both the much needed ecological change of energy production and the much needed social change to a more just distribution of wealth – all within the framework of a liberal but regulated market economy.

ULRICH SCHACHTSCHNEIDER, Treasurer, Unconditional Basic Income Europe

As human civilization progress, obsoleted values and lifestyle ought to be abolished for a better future: The energy of the Sun is the original source of most of the energy found on earth. It is also a non-polluting source of energy and it does not emit any greenhouse gases when producing electricity. I truly appreciate the idea that provides a sustainable funding resource for Universal Basic Income through Solar Dividends. Let’s step into a new world where filled with clean air, mindset of abundance and advanced human culture.

PING XU, Founder of UBI Asia Pacific

We hear so much about the need for finding practical solutions to destroying our home, it’s great to see someone take the initiative to present a plan for how to do that, and not only does he lay a remarkably accessible plan, Stayton does so in layman’s terms so the people who actually need to take charge can understand what needs to happen (goes without saying the government isn’t helping).

Even folks who agree with the politics (and to be clear there’s no question posed as to whether we should “agree” with the science; science = facts) may hesitate to actually pick up a book thinking it will sail over their heads, and that’s the real beauty of Solar Dividends and Stayton’s prior book Power Shift: us laymen, non-science types are his target demographic, and he brilliantly presents what would be difficult to understand in lesser hands into an easy, breezy and inspirational read. You’ll fly right through these books, which is all the more important because then you’ll be moved to action and will be well-equipped to act 😉

What better time than now? What better place than here?

RYAN STAYTON, Director of Development at Hivemind