The history of photovoltaic energy (aka. solar cells) started
way back in 1876.
With the recent rise in energy costs many people have been
looking to alternative sources of energy. One of the greatest
energy sources (our sun) is readily available for the taking.
We just need to be able to harness it's power. For those
interested, below is a brief history of how solar power came
The history of photovoltaic energy (aka. solar cells)
started way back in 1876. William Grylls Adams along with a
student of his, Richard Day, discovered that when selenium
was exposed to light, it produced electricity. An electricity
expert, Werner von Siemens, stated that the discovery was
"scientifically of the most far-reaching importance". The
selenium cells were not efficient, but it was proved that
light, without heat or moving parts, could be converted into
In 1953, Calvin Fuller, Gerald Pearson, and Daryl Chapin,
discovered the silicon solar cell. This cell actually
produced enough electricity and was efficient enough to run
small electrical devices. The New York Times stated that this
discovery was "the beginning of a new era, leading eventually
to the realization of harnessing the almost limitless energy
of the sun for the uses of civilization."
The year is 1956, and the first solar cells are available
commercially. The cost however is far from the reach of
everyday people. At $300 for a 1 watt solar cell, the expense
was far beyond anyone's means. 1956 started showing us the
first solar cells used in toys and radios. These novelty
items were the first item to have solar cells available to
.In the late 1950's and early 1960's satellites in the USA's
and Soviet's space program were powered by solar cells and in
the late 1960's solar power was basically the standard for
powering space bound satellites.
In the early 1970's a way to lower to cost of solar cells
was discovered. This brought the price down from $100 per
watt to around $20 per watt. This research was spearheaded by
Exxon. Most off-shore oil rigs used the solar cells to power
the waning lights on the top of the rigs.
The period from the 1970's to the 1990's saw quite a change
in the usage of solar cells. They began showing up on
railroad crossings, in remote places to power homes,
Australia used solar cells in their microwave towers to
expand their telecommunication capabilities. Even desert
regions saw solar power bring water to the soil where line
fed power was not an option!
Today we see solar cells in a wide variety of places. You
may see solar powered cars. There is even a solar powered
aircraft that has flown higher than any other aircraft with
the exception of the Blackbird. With the cost of solar cells
well within everyone's budget, solar power has never looked
Recently new technology has given us screen printed solar
cells, and a solar fabric that can be used to side a house,
even solar shingles that install on our roofs. International
markets have opened up and solar panel manufacturers are now
playing a key role in the solar power industry.
About the Author: Will Reece runs http://www.fuelfromthesun.com along with
other alternative energy sites.