Solar Energy

History of Solar Energy in the World – Renewable Energy Journal

History of Solar Energy

Because of new additional charges in conventional energy, many people have been checking on alternative energy sources. The sun is one of the most excellent energy sources, and it is readily available for usage. Harnessing its power, however, have always been interested the humanity. For those curious, below is a brief history of how solar power developed.

When speaking of the history of solar energy, firstly we have to address to Ancient Greece and Rome. These two civilizations have made use of the sun first, in 7th century BC to 3rd century BC, according to historical records. They used sunlight to light fires using some primitive burning glasses. They used this “burning mirrors” technique in religious ceremonies and even in battles. Another early use of solar energy is to warm water in the bathhouses; the iconic Roman bathhouses used this method.

The history of solar cells, also known as photovoltaic energy, started way back in 1876. William Grylls Adams and with his student, Richard Day, discovered that selenium produces electricity when exposed to light. Werner von Siemens was an electricity expert. He stated that the discovery of selenium was scientifically and universally significant. Though selenium cells were not efficient, thanks to it, they figured out that light could be converted into electricity without extra process.

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The New History of Solar Energy Goes on the 1900s


The history of solar energy goes on with Calvin Fuller, Gerald Pearson, and Daryl Chapin. In 1953, they discovered the silicon solar cell. The importance of this cell was that it could produce enough electricity to operate small electrical devices. The New York Times at the time wrote that this discovery was the beginning of a new era and realization of humankind could gain energy from an unlimited source of energy, such as the sun.

Then, in 1956, the first solar cell was put up for the market. The cost, however, was so expensive that ordinary people couldn’t buy it. Buying at $300 for a 1-watt solar cell was unreasonable, only the enthusiast would buy such a thing at such a price. In 1956 the first solar cells were used in toys and radios. These innovative items were the primary asset to have solar cells available to users.

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s satellites, using solar cells was pretty much the standard in the USA’s and Soviet’s space program. These satellites were powered by solar cells in the late 1960s.

In the early 1970s, the researchers have discovered a way to lower to cost of solar cells. Thanks to these discoveries, solar cells price down from $100 per watt to around $20 per watt. Exxon pioneered this research. Almost all of the off-shore oil rigs used the solar cells to power the recall lights on top of the oil rigs.

There have been many changes in the usage of solar cells between 1970 and 1990. They began coming to exist on grade crossings, in remote places to power households. To expand telecommunication capabilities, Australia, for instance, used solar cells in their microwave towers. Solar power is used even in desert regions to bring water to the soil!

Today we see solar cells in almost everywhere. You’ve probably seen solar-powered cars. Moreover, except Blackbird, there is even a solar-powered aircraft that has flown higher than any other aircraft. Due to low costs, solar energy cells are no longer intimidating, and it is suitable for almost everyone’s budget.

Recently, new technologies on solar power have offered us screen-printed solar cells. And a solar fabric that can be used to side a house, even solar roof tiles that install on roofs. International markets have expanded, and solar panel manufacturers are now playing a vital role in the solar power industry.


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