In 1967, a Swiss scientist named-Benedict de Saussure created the first solar collector – an insulated box covered with three layers of glass to absorb heat energy. This box was widely known as solar oven which reached the temperature of 260 degrees Fahrenheit. This was the first time when someone had notified the power of solar light. This solar oven was not well used because it just helped in heating the food and took longer time to make the food hot. After this invention people came to know about the power of solar energy but it was not in that form which the other non-renewable sources of energy are available. Therefore, then the Photovoltaic effect was defined in 1839 by French scientist Edmond Becquerel. He used two electrodes placed in an electrolyte. After exposing it to the light, the amount of electricity increased.
History of Solar Energy Timeline
In 1873, Willoughby Smith discovered photoconductivity of a material known as selenium. The discovery further got extended in 1876 when the same man discovered that same selenium produced solar energy. This process was not accomplished but an important lesson was learnt that solid could convert light into electricity without heat or any moving part. This discovery laid a stronger base for the future developments in the history of solar power. After that, from 1883-1891 several inventions were made that contributed to the evolution of solar energy use. Firstly in 1883, solar cell was introduced wrapped with the selenium wafers. Later, in 1891 first solar heater was created.
After that, in 1908 William J. Baileys invented a copper collector which was constructed using copper coils and boxes. The improvements of this invention are in use to manufacture today’s equipment. In 1916 a scientist known as Robert Millikan evidenced the photoelectric effect experimentally. Therefore, after this solar energy equipment was getting popular among the people of USA during Second World War in 1947. In 1958, solar power was first used for power space exploration equipment such as satellites and space stations. This was the first commercial use of solar energy.
During the period between1959 and 1970, there was a major discussion about the efficiency of solar cells and reduction of costs. The efficiency of solar system was 14% and was not comparable to high cost of producing cells. After that, in 1981 solar power aircraft was invented by Paul Macready. That aircraft flew from France to England. In 1982, solar power car was developed in Australia. By the year 1999 the largest plant was developed producing more than 20 kilowatts. The most efficient solar cell was developed with a photovoltaic efficiency of 36%. The market of solar energy equipment got failed due to the lack of market for high technology products. The solar power produced is very much costly. This is the reason why solar energy is not used by people due to its higher cost.
In 2012, history’s largest solar energy plant, the Golmud Solar Park in China, stood-up with an installed capacity of 200 megawatts. Therefore, the solar energy in the past was very much costlier which was not affordable to the common man. So the people were not much interested in using the solar energy. Solar energy was used by the people thousands of years ago. For example, ancient cultures used the energy from the sun to keep warm by starting fires with it. They even kept their houses warm by passive solar energy designs. Buildings were designed in the way that the walls of the building would remain warm during nights.
The solar energy was practically available from the mid 1950’s when A&Ts labs first developed 6% sufficient silicon solar cells. By 1960 Hoffman Electronics increased commercial solar cell efficiencies to as much as 14%. Today researchers have developed cells with more than 20% efficiencies. The first long-term practical application of PV cells was in satellite systems. Photovoltaic silicon solar cells provided the electrical power to the satellite until 1964 when the system was shut down. The sun provides endless non-polluting energy to the satellite power systems and hence demand for the solar cells has risen as a result of telecommunication revolution and need of satellites.
The energy crisis and oil embargos of the 1970’s made nation aware of the dependency on the controlled non-renewable energy sources and this brought about the revolution of solar energy into the lives of people. People were not aware of these solar energy systems and equipments but later when the non-renewable resources started depleting, people started using the things which worked on renewable resources like solar energy. The solar energy systems then come into existence and the people start using them.
Solar panels installed in the houses are very much expensive. These are so expensive that common man couldn’t afford the expense of these solar panels. The solar panels are now somewhat less expensive than in the past years. During early 90’s these systems were very expensive and bulky too. Also, these systems work very slowly. An economic breakthrough also occurred in the 1970′s when Dr. Elliot Berman was able to design a less expensive solar cell bringing the price down from $100 per watt to $20 per watt. But with time these systems have become very efficient and cheap. Due to non-availability of the non-renewable resources like coal and petroleum, people have started using renewable resources of energy in the form of solar energy.
The light striking in certain compounds in particular metals causes the surface of material to emit electrons. Solar power is rapidly developing energy source everywhere in the world. Most of the countries have now started using solar power for lighting up their homes. Solar power plants are being setup in the states. These power plants provide power to the whole of the state. Solar panels are installed in these solar plants in series and some in parallel pattern. Large number of panels is installed to produce large amount of power. The solar energy produced by the solar panels is now being used by many of the people in this world. The installation and buying charges of solar system is very high but after installations there will be no additional expense other than repairing the panels if required.
The solar energy produced in past years was of very much lesser efficiency. But as of now the efficiency of these solar power systems have got increased with the advancement in the technologies developed for the solar systems. Therefore, solar energy produced is of different efficiencies. The systems with one panel have very lesser efficiency and the system with more than one panel have higher efficiencies. These panels can supply power to the homes with large number of equipment.
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