A lot of people assume that solar power hasn’t really been around that long. Many of them think systems were first created in the 1970s as a reaction to the global energy crisis. However, the history of the technology reaches back much farther – more than 100 years earlier, in fact. Energy efficiency experts would like to share some information regarding how this exciting and sustainable form of energy came to be.
Going Way Back
Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect in 1839. This is how electricity can be generated by the rays of the sun. Becquerel believed that by shining light on an electrode that is submerged in a conductive solution, and electric current is created. But even though there was a great deal of research performed after Becquerel’s discovery, solar power was extremely inefficient.
Depending on whom you believe, viable solar cells were not created until 1941, by Russell Ohl, or in 1953 by a group led by Calvin Fuller. What is not in dispute, however, is that the first solar cells were available commercially in 1956. The problem was the cost was too high for the technology to be viable – $300 for a 1-watt cell. However, that same year showed that the technology could be viable, as solar cells were used in toys and radios. By the early 1960s, space program satellites in both the U.S. and the Soviet Union used solar cells.
A huge breakthrough in solar power occurred in the early 1970s, when Exxon spearheaded research that found a way to drastically reduce the cost of solar cells. Rather than costing – by that time – $100 a watt, the cost could be brought down to as little as $20 per watt. Over the next two decades, solar cell usage grew substantially as a result.
Advances continue to this day, of course, including the creation of solar shingles and even solar-powered fabric that can serve as house siding. When you are ready to take advantage of the cost savings and sustainability of solar power, call Global Efficient Energy at 1-888-826-7881 or contact us online.