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History of evergreen solar energy

The history of evergreen solar energy

So we all know about solar energy in general but what do we actually know about the history behind what is said to be evergreen solar energy.

Lets first discuss the history behind solar energy and how it has become so popular.

The history

Mankind has utilized solar power since at least the 7th century B.C., according to historical accounts, when humans used sunlight to ignite fires using magnifying glass materials. The Greeks and Romans were known to use solar power with mirrors in the 3rd century B.C. to light torches for religious ceremonies. Mirrors became a common tool referred to as “burning mirrors.” Chinese civilization noted the usage of mirrors for the same purpose in 20 A.D.

The concept of “sunrooms” in structures was introduced early on. These sunrooms concentrated sunlight via large windows. The stunning Roman baths, which were generally placed on the south-facing side of buildings, were sunrooms. To capture the warmth of the sun during cold winter months, ancestors to the Pueblo Native Americans known as the Anasazi lived in south-facing homes high above cliffs.

Researchers and scientists had success in the late 1700s and early 1800s using sunlight to operate ovens for long trips. They also utilized the sun’s energy to create solar-powered steamboats. It’s evident that manipulating the power of the sun was an accepted practice thousands of years ago, even before the invention of solar panels.

The invention of solar panels

Solar panel technology has evolved through an iterative process, with contributions from a number of scientists. Naturally, there is some debate as to when they were developed and who should be given credit for the discovery. Some people believe that French scientist Edmond Becquerel was the person who discovered the photovoltaic effect, which revealed that light might enhance electricity generation by putting two metal electrodes into a conducting solution. The “photovoltaic effect,” or this development’s definition, was crucial in following PV advancements because it used selenium.

In 1873, Willoughby Smith discovered that selenium has photoconductive ability, which led to William Grylls Adams and Richard Evans Day’s 1876 discovery that sunlight causes selenium to generate electricity. In the following years, Charles Fritts created the first solar cells constructed of selenium wafers – thus some historians credit Fritts with the invention of solar cells.

Today’s solar cells are made from silicon, not selenium. Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson invented the silicon photovoltaic cell at Bell Labs in 1954. This is considered by some to be the true invention of solar panels.

Because it was the first time a solar technology could continuously power an electric device for several hours of each day, some historians argue that this event marks the true invention of PV technology. The first ever silicon solar cell had a conversion efficiency of four percent, which was significantly lower than what contemporary cells are capable of.

Interesting usages of solar energy

Lets explore some of the varied usages of solar energy:

Significant dates in solar power efficiency

From 1957 to 1960, Hoffman Electronics made large strides in photovoltaic efficiency, taking the record from 8% to 14%. In 1985, the University of South Wales achieved 20% efficiency for silicon cells. Then, in 1999, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory collaborated with SpectroLab Inc. and created a solar cell with 33.3% efficiency. The University of South Wales surpassed that again in 2016 when researchers reached 34.5% efficiency

Solar panels in space

Solar power has been used in space for a long time, and it was even employed to help propel spacecraft. In 1958, the Vanguard I satellite utilized a tiny one-watt panel to power its radio equipment. The Vanguard II, Explorer III, and Sputnik-3 were all launched in 1959 with PV technology on board. NASA was responsible for launching the world’s first Orbiting Astronomical Observatory in 1964, which was powered by a one-kilowatt array. In 1966, NASA deployed the globe’s first Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAE) , which operated on a one-kilowatt array.

First house to be solar powered

The University of Delaware built the first solar building, named “Solar One,” in 1973. Solar thermal and PV power blended together to create a hybrid supply. It was also the first time that integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) were used in construction (the array didn’t employ solar panels, but rather incorporated solar into the rooftop similar to Tesla’s new roof product).

Famous houses with solar power

President Jimmy Carter kicked things off by having solar panels installed on the White House in 1979. Subsequently, though, President Ronald Reagan had them removed in 1981. Then, in 2010, Barack Obama requested – and subsequently received – that both solar panels and a solar water heater be installed on the White House once again.

Aircraft that were solar powered

Paul MacCready’s Solar Challenger was the first solar-powered aircraft, capable of flying across the English Channel from France to England. In 1998, another remote-controlled solar airplane called “Pathfinder” set a new altitude record after reaching an astounding 80,000 feet! However, NASA one-upped Pathfinder just three years later in 2001 when they managed to fly their non-rocket powered aircraft 96,000 feet into the air. Finally, in 2016 Bertrand Piccard completed the first ever zero emissions flight around the world using Solar Impulse 2 – currently the largest and most powerful solar plane on Earth.

Fast forward to today

In the current economic and world energy situations it is even more important than ever to ensure that we look after our planet and do our bit. Not only does solar power provide an off grid solution that can save hundreds on your energy bills, it’s a great way to do your bit for the planet.

If you are thinking of going solar then why not give us a call on 0800 0096625 or email us at to find out how we can help you go green with evergreen solar energy.

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