We might think that solar energy has been around for a long, long time, however, it is actually still a rather new thing. It was not that long ago that we realized that the sun has the potential to produce power for us.
It is an established way in which we can produce clean energy, and a better economy, but there is a great deal of history that has happened over a short period of time that has led to this.
https://powermy.com/power-stations/ knows that solar energy is very important, and that we should all be able to have it in our lives, because it is one of the most efficient energies we can have. While wind is great it is not always there, the sun is.
So, where did it come from?
When Did We First Use Solar Energy?
Theoretically, it has been used since the 7th century BC or thereabout, as history tells us that humanity used sunlight to light fires. The Greeks and Romans also used it to light torches on religious occasions.
However, it was not until the 1700s and 1800s that scientific researchers noticed that you could use sunlight to power cooking appliances on long journeys.
Solar-powered steamboats also became a thing in this time too.
Really it is clear that thousands of years ago, people noticed how useful the sun could be, and not just for getting a sick tan, but for creating energy.
However, the way in which we are trying to use it today is a bit more recent. So, in a way you could say it is both a new and an ancient practice, all wrapped up in one.
The sun as a power source has been known for a very long time, but in the way we use it today, it is more recent.
When Did Solar Panels Come About?
So, since we walk to talk about solar-powered systems, we should talk about solar panels, because this is how we use solar power as an energy source.
Well, these were developed over time, taking a number of varying contributions from numerous different scientists.
There was some debate specifying when they were created, or who is to credit for it.
Some might credit Edmond Becquerel, who determined that light had the ability to elevate generation of electricity. As when two metal electrodes were placed into conducting solution it would raise the generation of electricity.
This is known as the photovoltaic effect.
Selenium & Electricity
However, in 1873, Willoughby Smith notes that selenium has potential, which led to another discovery that selenium makes electricity if it is exposed to the sun.
Then Charles Fritts, in 1883 produced solar cells from selenium, and this is why Fritts is often the person who is credited for the invention of solar panels, because he did produce the first solar cells.
It makes sense.
Selenium To Silicon
Although we do not actually use selenium in today’s solar cells, now we use silicon.
So, many might actually consider the invention to be linked to Chapin, Fuller, and Pearson who created the silicon photovoltaic cell in 1954.
This would mark the invention of this technology, as it can power electrical devices for many hours over a day, and is more directly linked to how this technology is used and applied in the modern day.
Back when invented, the first silicon cell for solar was able to convert light at 4% rate of efficiency, which is less than 25% of what a modern cell can do. But it is close enough.
Significant Times In Solar Energy
It might surprise you to know that the first use of solar technology was not even actually used on our planet, instead it was used in outer space, this is where solar technology was used to give power to satellites.
It’s not that strange when you think of it. Considering the sun is always shining bright in space.
By 1958, Vanguard I used a small 1W panel to power the radios, and then Vanguard II, Sputnik 3, and Explorer III all launched with solar technology on board.
By 1964, NASA launched Nimbus, which was capable of running on a 470W solar array. 1966 saw the first Orbiting Observatory which was powered by a 1kW array.
Use in space is not so shocking when considered in full.
1981 saw the first solar-powered aircraft, which was the ‘Solar Challenger’.
1979 saw president Jimmy Carter install solar panels on the White House, while they were taken down by Regan, Obama requested they come back, as well as a Solar Water heater too!
How far we have come!