With the sun having been around longer than humans, it's only natural that our history with solar began long ago. Humans have been using the sun for energy and other tasks since the beginning of civilization. From heating their homes to heating up water, ancient civilizations saw the potential to harness the sun's energy for everyday uses early on.
The real transformation of the sun’s potential came into play in 1876. William Grylls Adams and his student Richard Day discovered that the element selenium produced electricity when exposed to light. This would be known as the first photovoltaic cell. Selenium was not efficient for long term use, but this discovery sparked the concept that light could be converted into energy easily without moving parts or heat.
The more efficient silicon solar cell was discovered in 1953 by Calvin Fuller, Gerald Pearson, and Daryl Chapin. This cell was actually efficient enough to run small appliances and created the idea that harnessing the power of the sun could provide an essentially limitless energy source.
It only took a few years to have the cells available commercially. In 1956, the prices were too expensive for anything but novelty items such as radios and toys. In the next decade, solar-powered space satellites became the standard. By 1960, essentially all space-bound satellites were powered by solar cells.
In 1970, research led to reducing the price of solar cells. Exxon was actually in the forefront of the research for this innovation, and the use of solar cells on oil rigs became the norm. The solar cells were used to power the lights on offshore oil rigs. This interesting relationship was a huge stepping stone for the wide use availability and affordability of solar cells today.
From the 1970’s to the 1990’s, we saw a huge increase in the use of solar cells. Railroad tracks, cell towers, and remote locations mark the beginning of using solar as a consistent energy source. Homes that could not have traditional power sources began to use solar power for their electricity and water lines. In the 1990’s, many more opportunities existed for commercially available solar panels for rooftops, which started to power homes all across the country. These panels were worked into the already established electricity grid, and this was a huge innovation for clean energy. Solar became an important power source for business and residential areas, and has provided citizens with reliable clean energy ever since.
Innovation in solar cells, efficiency, size, and overall ability continues to be an important aspect for the solar industry. Companies like SunHarvest Solar are here to provide you with the most ethical and innovative solar energy Arizona has to offer. Click here to see how your home or business can become a part of solar history!