A Brief History of Solar Power

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Solar Power

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At the very moment when solar cells entered the scene, everything changed in the world of energy production. We are talking about hundreds of years of improving technology by numerous engineers and physicists.

Generally, solar power is not something that appeared in the last fifty years. People have been using it sincethe 7th century Before Christ. However, during that period, they have reverted the sun’s energy.

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For instance, people in that time use a magnifying glass combined with the sun’s energy to start fires. A few centuries later, Romans and Greens using burning mirrors to bounce sunlight to light sacred torches for different religious reasons.

In ancient times, people have invented sunrooms to use the sun’s energy to increase overall warmth.

We are talking about south-facing rooms that concentrated and captured sunlight with an idea to use it for bathhouses, which are still prevalent in some areas of the world.

One legend states that Archimedes used solar energy to set fire to attacking wooden ships to Roman Empire. The story says that he found ways to reflect the light off bronze shields, which concentrated rays to shoot enemies before they reached land.

It is something similar to an ancient solar laser beam. Even though this is just a legend that passed as a folk tale, a Greek navy tested it in the 1970s and set fire on a wooden ship fifty meters away by using sun’s energy combined with a bronze shield.

Therefore, a legend was true.

Solar Power Cell Technology

Edmond Becquerel, a French physicist in 1839, discovered a way to create a cell with a photovoltaic effect.

He experimented by using metal electrodes and conducting solution. Therefore, he created a conclusion that a particular cell had generated more electricity after light exposure.

Willoughby Smith discovered that selenium was an adequate photoconductor in 1873. Three years later, Richard Evans Day and William Grylls Adams used the same principle as Becquerel by implementing selenium as a photoconductor.

Therefore, they created a way to generate electricity after light exposure, but the efficiency was less than one percent.

Charles Fritz, in 1883 discovered the first operating selenium solar cell. Even though we use silicon as the best photoconductor nowadays, selenium was a precursor to a technology used all around you.

Solar Technology Awareness and Production

One of the most influential people who brought awareness and attention to solar power was Albert Einstein. He published a paper at the beginning of the 20th century that light carries a significant power and the photoelectric effect.

In those moments, the public has started paying attention to solar power, which leads to numerous experiments. In 1954, Bell Labs scientists Gerald Pearson, Calvin Fuller, and Daryl Chapin created the first silicon cell.

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The main idea is that silicon comes with greater availability and efficiency than other resources such as selenium. During a space-age, scientists used solar panels to power parts of spacecraft.

For instance, NASA has launched the Nimbus satellite in 1964 that ran a photovoltaic panel with 470 watts.

Renewable Energy Alternative

You should know that during the seventies of the previous century, oil shortages brought attention to US dependency on various fossil fuels and energy resources. It created high inflation, and needs were more than evident.

During that period, Jimmy Carter installed the first panels onto the White House and started creating clean energy to boost awareness of the importance of renewable sources.

The main problem with first resident options was the high price tag. However, as time went by, both efficiency and expense improved. Today, you can find affordable options that can generate up to twenty percent of solar energy, which allowed people to use it on a larger scale.

Since the history of solar energy is essential to understand how everything changed in renewable energy, you should know that the prices dropped significantly in the last few decades.

Besides, the improvements of efficiency increased, which is why most households nowadays use either a portion or entire homes on renewable energy. It is still a high investment, but you can return your investment by paying lower bills.

The future will bring greater efficiency for lower price tags than before, which we expect to happen.