Do you ever wonder how far into the past can we trace this history of solar? Who discovered we can turn energy from the sun into actual useful electricity? The application of this technology may be modern, but the concept has long been existing for early scientists.
The beginning of the history of solar
In the year 1839, the photovoltaic effect (PV Effect) was discovered by the French physicist, Alexandre Edmond Becquerel. During the 19th century, numerous research focused on solar energy and solar-powered technology by way of concentrating light with mirrors and lenses. The same technology or elements used in modern solar panels.
Upon the discovery of the photovoltaic effect, researchers found a new understanding of solar power and energy. Electrical currents are able to flow within certain materials when they are exposed to light, which has been developed into the wide use of solar power.
Essentially, the photovoltaic effect is a phenomenon that happens in the occurrence of sunlight striking certain types of material that allows it to flow. This material is popularly known as semiconductors. These are matters that are not as conducive as metals when it comes to electricity, in their natural state. However, under particular circumstances, such as exposure to heat or light, they become the perfect conductors.
What happens when sunlight hits these types of materials?
An example of a semiconductor widely used in modern times is silicone – when sunlight strikes this material, electrons are released and the composition of this silicone allows electrons to flow and create electricity.
It has almost been two centuries since the first discovery of the photovoltaic effect, it took multiple scientists and years of research for the concept to arrive at such development we know of today. The eureka moment for this ideology was when they discovered that selenium was a semiconductor which led them to create the first-ever selenium solar cell by Charles Fritts, an American scientist in the year 1883. Just like any discovery, they encountered a hurdle. The challenge was the lack of efficiency, as the invention converted no more than 1% of sunlight into usable energy.
Even scientists like Albert Einstein took a shot in learning more about the photovoltaic effect to get to the knowledge that we have of it today.
Another key point in the history of solar energy is the energy crisis that emerged in the United States in the 1970s. Congress fought to pass the Solar Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1974 in making “solar viable and affordable and market it to the public.” After this, people saw solar energy as an optimal option for their homes more than ever.
Solar energy in modern times
The means of finding a viable and affordable energy solution remains the main priority above anything else such as aesthetics. As we know, traditional solar panels found on rooftops aren’t exactly the most pleasing things to look at – but they work and deliver.
There are continuous steps being taken to further develop solar systems, their viability, longevity, as well as accessibility to the public. This continuous progress led the solar costs to continuously drop to an extent of 70% over the years. We aim to make an energy source such as solar, to be attainable to many because of its benefits and returns in terms of investment in the future.
Solar companies such as Evergreen Solar strive to achieve products and services that meet all standards – efficiency, effectiveness, and even elegance but most important of all, making it all within your reach, as convenient as possible.