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Solar Power Systems

Necessity has for long been what initiates and propels inventions. At one time, energy for various facets of home and industrial production was not readily available. However, things have changed a lot over the years, and energy is even produced using different means.

One of the modern and more accessible ways electric energy is made available nowadays is through the use of solar panels. This has been a huge lifesaver for many homes and businesses because it is an alternative means to provide an electric power supply.

It has also helped in cutting down the amount of money that is spent on energy production. Despite its popularity, only a few people can explain how it originated, and this has been a confusing topic for many to discuss.

A Little Background About Solar Power

The history of solar energy is an exciting story that depicts innovation as well as progress in science. At the time the solar cell was invented, it brought about a massive change in modes of energy production. This change was handed down and improved through solar energy research from one physicist and engineer to the next over hundreds of years until it got to where it is now.

Solar energy is not new, even though solar panels are a relatively new technology compared to other means of energy production. Mankind has been using solar power since the 7th century B.C. As primitive as the state in which energy from the sun is, it was revered and has been used since man started walking the Earth.

Solar power was used for a variety of reasons, one of which was concentrating energy from the sun with the use of a magnifying glass to start fires for cooking. Around the third century B.C., Greeks and Romans used mirrors to reflect sunlight, allowing them to light their sacred torches for religious events.

In ancient times, people created sunrooms as a way to capture sunlight for its natural warmth. These rooms were typically built to face south and would retain heat for long periods of time. An example is the Roman bathhouses and Native American adobes.

These rooms can still be found in a number of modern homes today. Ancient Greek legends have it that famed scientist Archimedes was able to set wooden ships on fire, according to the story, by having an intense beam of light focused through a piece of thick, bronze sheet metal.

The concentrated rays were powerful enough to cripple approaching enemies before they could even make landfall. The efficacy of the solar power test was carried out by the Greek navy in the 1970s. They were able to set a wooden test ship on fire from 50 meters away with a bronze shield and concentrated energy from the sun.

The Invention Of Solar Power Cell Technology

French physicist Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect in 1839. This occurred when he was experimenting with a cell made of metal electrodes immersed in a conducting solution. He observed that it produced more electricity When exposed to light.

Willoughby Smith took it a step further, and in 1973, he found that selenium could serve as a conductor. William Grylls Adams and Richard Evans Day made use of the same photovoltaic principal Becquerel used on selenium. The two scientists found out that selenium could generate electricity when exposed to light in their experiment.

It took nearly 50 years for the first working solar cell to be created after the discovery of the photovoltaic effect. The American inventor Charles Fritz produced it in 1883. Scientists later found that silicon was a better material, and it has since been used in the production of solar panels.

Silicon is the precursor to all other technologies as we know them today. Other physicists contributed to the invention of the solar cell. While Becquerel was credited with finding the application of the photovoltaic effect, Fritz was known for developing the forerunner of all solar cells.

When Was The First Solar Cell Invented?

Solar panels are made up of several small units known as solar cells. The first photoelectric solar cell was created in 1888 by Russian scientist Aleksandr Stoletov. The photoelectric effect bears a close resemblance to the photovoltaic effect. It was German physicist Heinrich Hertz that first made this observation.

Electrons are released from silicon when light hits a solar panel. The free electrons move to the other side of the silicon cell, and the movement is what produces an electrical current that powers your appliances at home.

The 1888 solar cell used the same principle but used a different material other than silicon. Some years after, other scientists succeeded in using the photoelectric effect to improve upon the technology. After they discovered how to use light and heat from the sun to produce an electric current, they began to use thermos piles to produce heat, light, and electricity.

How Solar Technology Became Popular

Albert Einstein contributed a lot in the manner of solar technology, and the world's attention got riveted on solar energy and the potential use it held. Einstein published a paper in 1905 where he explained the principle of the photoelectric effect and how light transmits energy. The publication generated more awareness and led to more acceptance of solar power.

The big leap in the history of solar energy production occurred when Bell Labs manufactured solar cells in 1954 like the ones we now use today. Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson are three scientists that worked in the lab, and they were the ones that produced a more usable form of the solar cell using silicon.

It soon became apparent that solar cells with silicon had better efficiency and were also better because the sun was a widely available natural resource. With the development of the space-age, solar panels became even more valuable and effective in powering different parts of spacecraft during the late 1950s and 1960s.

Both the Vanguard I satellite of 1958 and Vanguard II as well as Explorer III and Sputnik-3 used solar technology to power their systems. A 470-watt photovoltaic solar panel array powered the Nimbus satellite that NASA launched in 1964. At the time, it was envisaged that solar energy's potential would be moved from outer space to power homes and businesses on Earth.

Solar Panels As Viable Alternative Energy

The United States was highly dependent on foreign energy resources during the oil shortage of the 1970s. This was during a time of high inflation, which subjected American citizens to great economic hardship. Low or absence of essentials created the need for a more innovative energy solution.

President Jimmy Carter instructed that solar panels be installed at the White House during this period. The effort was not only to make a bold statement about the availability of clean energy through solar but also to spread its awareness. The popularity that solar energy enjoyed thereafter happened in the years that followed. Solar power became very popular in the U.S. and still is today.

Changes In Solar Efficiency And Price Over Time

Becquerel's original photovoltaic solar cell improvements showed that early solar panels were approximately 1% efficient and cost over $300 per watt. At the time, the cost of producing power from coal ranged between $2 and $3 per watt. Hoffman Electronics was able to increase efficiency to 10 per cent in 1959, but soon after, they were able to improve on their own record by increasing it again to 14 per cent in 1960.

With the upgrades in efficiency, solar panels became very useful in the space program. Solar panels were used throughout the 1960s in the space program, leading to an increase in their production. Ultimately, this brought about a reduction in its price to about $100 per watt. Dr. Elliot Berman was one of the scientists who worked on improving the efficiency of solar energy.

During the 1970s, Exxon funded his research, and the result was the production of a less expensive solar cell. The cost of a solar panel lowered to $20 per watt. At the moment, solar panels for home use are around 15 to 18 per cent efficient, and the cost can be as low as $0.05 per watt. There has been an average 10 per cent decrease per year in the cost of solar panels since the 1980s.

The improvements and cost reductions recorded in solar technology result from the research and hard work of scientists and engineers, those that invented solar panels, and the ones that have continued with research work. They are the people who have remained resolute in their determination to ensure that solar power becomes one of the best sources of clean and low-cost electricity for all.

The Future Of Solar Panels

Nobody expected solar energy to withstand the test of time and be used centuries after it was discovered. The predecessors of the solar panels we use today were first used in the 1800s. These inventions came from German, French, and Russian scientists, and their efforts led to the solar constructions we use nowadays.

Since earlier scientists invented solar panels and made them available as a clean energy source, the technology has endured for many years. The world is set for more value from it in the coming days. Solar power is helping to develop energy sources available to people in Australia and different parts of the world.

There is an awareness of the potential for tapping into the sun's energy. Once solar panels are made, they can generate electricity without giving off pollution. Since there are no moving parts, modules are dependable and have a long-life span. Solar panels are relatively easy to install and maintain, which makes them an excellent option for powering remote areas where mains supply cannot reach.

We expect that the cost of solar panels will continue to decrease so that even more people can continue enjoying what the sun has to offer – free energy. If you would like to uncover more about solar energy systems, consult a local expert. They will answer all your questions and even help you install panels on your roof.