A look back at the history of Solar Power

We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy: sun, wind and tide. I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power!-Thomas Edison
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Nov. 10, 2011 - PRLog -- Already in ancient Greece it was known that light energy can be used, and it seems that at the siege of Syracuse in 212 BC, the Greeks concentrated sunlight with mirrors and turned it to the Romans fleet, burning it. Also the Greeks were the ones that used light energy in peaceful purposes: lighting the Olympic flame. In 1839 Alexandre Edmonmd Becquerel found that a battery exposed to the sun produces more electricity than an unexposed one.

The increasing of the Selenium conductivity was demonstrated in 1873. Ten years later the first “classic” photocell was created and after ten years, in 1893 the first solar cell who produced electricity appeared and in this way there were invented the photovoltaic (PV) solar panel or electric panels.

The manufacture of the first solar cell in the American laboratories of Bell company (1954) is due to a happy incidence. Some of the employees under the direction of Morton Price noted that a silicon rectifier produces more current when it was exposed to the sun. After that, Bell company with the contribution of Chapin, Fuller and Pearson developed the first silicon solar cells contaminated with arsenic. In 1958 solar cells were tested for the first time on the Vanguard satellite, which was equipped with a solar panel with 108 solar cells based on silicon. The obtained results were above expectations – until today space probes on Mars are powered up with the electricity produced by photovoltaic panels.

The crisis of the early 70s led to increased prices of petroleum products resulting in increased energy prices. This has spurred research in solar cells. In 1980 began the competitions for cars powered by electricity generated from solar photovoltaic modules. In 1981 a solar powered aircraft crossed the English Channel. Meanwhile Green and experts from Stanford University and Telefunken developed photovoltaic solar panels with efficiency around 20%.

This is just a short history of solar panels, for a detailed view and for the chance to interact with prominent speakers on this topic, register for the upcoming webinar as part of the Series on Solar Power: “Concentrating Solar Power and Photovoltaic Systems”.
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