Although people talk about solar power like it’s a new concept, the truth is that humans have used solar power in some way or another since at least the 7th century BC. Solenoid cells, the cells that make up today’s shiny solar panels’ glowing surfaces, have been around for almost 70 years. Solar power has been around for a long time and is a proven energy solution. Solar Bear Tampa thought it would be nice to give you a brief overview of the history and development of solar power.
The Solenoid Cell Was Not Yet In Existence (7th Century BC – 1800s).
The 7th century BC is the earliest recorded instance of humans converting sunlight to energy. This was when people started using glass and other magnifying material to focus sunlight enough to lighten a fire in kindling. You’re probably picturing a child lighting up ants at recess with a magnifying lens. A few centuries later, the Chinese, Romans, and Greeks used a similar method to light torchers, but they used refracted sunlight through mirrors. Native cultures throughout America built homes from clay and adobe to capture the warmth of the sun during the day so they could keep warm at night.
The Industrial Age of Solar (1839-the 1900s)
Society became interested in alternative sources of power in the 1800s. The steamboat was invented. Electricity was first discovered. In 1839, Edmond Becquerel, a Frenchman, discovered the power of solar energy. He discovered the “photovoltaic effects,” which is how modern solar panels store sunlight. Augustin Mouchot (a French mathematician) was inspired by Becquerel’s work and had multiple patents for solar-powered engines by the 1860s. American engineers soon followed Becquerel’s lead, and solar power gained popularity in the overseas market well into the 1880s. Charles Fritts, a New York inventor, invented the first solar cell made of gold-coated, selenium. However, this cell only produced a fraction of the power that modern solar cells can produce today. Soon after, patents were filed for more solar cells, thermal batteries (the predecessor to modern-day solar batteries), and thermal generators. These inventions have been used in many countries around the globe. Despite all these advances, solar power would not really shine again until many decades later.
In 1954, The Solenoid cell was invented.
Bell Laboratories began to experiment with silicon-based solar cell technology in the 1950s after realizing the limitations of Selenium-based solar panels. These silicone-based solar cells were able to produce six times as much power as the original selenium cells due to their higher conduction rate. This breakthrough in photovoltaic technology (PV) would be the catalyst to all the solar power innovations that we love today. The first solar panels were built by Bell scientists soon after the discovery of the new solenoid cells.
Popularity of Solar Panels Grows (1960s-1990s)
Although the geniuses of Bell Labs had figured out how to produce efficient solar power, it was very expensive and could only be used for projects that received a lot of funding. NASA and other space exploration agencies began using solar panels to power satellites in 1958. The University of Delaware constructed the first solar building in 1973. It was called “Solar One” and it ran completely off solar power. This was thanks to solenoid cell technology built into the building. Hoffman Electronics increased solar cell conversion by more than doubling the power that each solenoid cell could produce between 1957 and 1968. The first spacecraft and solar aircraft were constructed in the 1980s and 1990s. Solar cells’ efficiency was also improved. These advances led to increased awareness about solar power and greater access to it thanks to lower prices.
Today’s Solar Power
This history has brought us to the present–the golden age for solar power as we know it. The US government has encouraged green energy options like solar. In fact, individual states like Florida offer tax deductions to homeowners who incorporate solar power into their energy plans. It’s easier than ever to go solar. Solar Bear Tampa can provide you with a free estimate by calling us today.
This post was written by Daniel Massaad, owner and expert solar technician at Energy Solutions Direct! ESD is one of the top solar companies in St Petersburg FL! Our licensed and certified contractors are masters of their craft; with years of experience servicing the great Tampa Bay area and beyond, the choice is simple. ESD excels at offering you the best in solar value!