\In the twenty-first century, when we think of solar energy, we envision intelligent systems that use solar energy and solar panels to power our homes. Despite the fact that solar panel technology is still fairly new, having only been around for about 50 years, people have been using the sun’s energy to power their lives for many years.
Who invented solar panels? The silicon solar cell was developed at Bell Labs by inventors Gerald Pearson, Calvin Fuller, and Daryl Chapin. Even though it was thought to be the first effective solar energy converter, the cost was still too high for the majority of people.
Discover more about the development of solar panels by reading on.
Table of Contents
Who Invented Solar Panels?
In 1884, Charles Fritts became the first person to produce electricity using solar panels, but it would take another 70 years for them to be effective enough to be practical. Daryl Chapin, Gerald Pearson, and Calvin Fuller were three researchers at Bell Laboratories who created the first modern solar panels, which had an efficiency of only 4%.5 These three innovators built on the sometimes-overlooked work of their Bell Labs predecessor Russel Ohl, who discovered how silicon crystals behaved as semiconductors when exposed to light.
Ancient Uses Of Solar Energy
The energy of the sun was first used as a source of heat. The design of buildings to maximize light entry and warmth can be traced back to the Ancient Egyptian civilizations.
about the third century B.C., the Sunlight was used to make fire torches by the ancient Greeks and Romans. being especially useful for religious and sacred ceremonies.
16th–17th Centuries: Development Of The First Solar Cell
- Fast forward to the 16th century, the first solar cell was designed by Horace-Benedict de Saussure, a Swiss scientist, in 1767
- Invention and advancement in the development of solar energy continued 72 years later. At just 19 years old, French scientist Edmond Becquerel discovered the Photovoltaic Effect: voltage and electric current in materials can be generated upon exposure to light.
- By 1870, another milestone was reached where the discovery that light could be turned into electricity without heat is made.
- The first industrial solar heat pump was patented in the 1890s.
- By the end of the 17th century, The first functional selenium solar cell was developed by American inventor Charles Fritz (current solar panels use silicon cells).
Up until this point, the development of the modern solar photovoltaic (PV) panel had been made possible by the contributions and experimental findings of numerous scientists and inventors.
Early 20th Century: The Modernisation Of Solar Energy
- 1905 was the year a young On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light is a piece of writing that Albert Einstein (then 26 years old) published.” where he researched the phenomenon that came to be known as the photoelectric effect.
- 1917 Einstein introduced the idea that light acts as electromagnetic force-carrying packets, providing the theoretical underpinning for photovoltaics.
- The first usable photovoltaic cell was created by Bell Laboratories researchers in 1954.
- The first phone call made using solar power occurred in the middle of the 1950s. demonstrating the continued advancement and growing acceptance of solar energy.
- General Electric debuted the first radio with solar power a year later, in 1956. The radio could be used both during the day and at night.
- A few years later, the US tested using solar PV cells on satellites orbiting the Earth. Solar energy has been used for space applications ever since that time and is still widely used today!
- Vanguard I, a spacecraft, became the first to use solar power in 1958.
- The first solar vehicle, featuring a solar-panel roof and a 72-volt battery, was unveiled in London in 1960.
- 1982 was when the first large-scale solar farm was built near Hesperia, California.
- The 1990s saw more advancements in solar technology, and during this time, emerging world economies started to increase their use of renewable energy sources, particularly wind and solar PV.
21st Century: The Age Of Maturity
Solar energy, a pricey but scientifically sound technology, gains from ongoing government support to become the cheapest energy in human history. Its success follows the S-curve, which describes how technology grows initially slowly and is only supported by early adopters before experiencing rapid growth as economies of scale enable lower production costs and longer supply chains. While solar modules cost $106/watt in 1976 (in 2019 dollars), they drop to just $0.38/watt in 2019, with 89% of that drop happening since 2010.6
2001: Home Depot starts offering home solar power systems for sale.
2001: A pioneer in solar technology, Suntech Power is established in China.
2006: The California Solar Initiative, which offers financial incentives for solar development, has received approval from the California Public Utilities Commission.
2008: NREL sets a world record for solar cell efficiency at 40.8%.10
2009: The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is established.
2009: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) allocates $90 billion for tax breaks, investments in clean energy, and subsidies for solar energy projects, among other things.
2009: To encourage the expansion of the solar industry, China introduces feed-in tariffs.
2010: Reinstalling solar panels and a solar water heater at the White House was done by American President Barack Obama.
2011: Growth of the solar industry is slowed by the Solyndra bankruptcy and investment disaster.
2013: Solar PV installations around the world now exceed 100 gigawatts.
2015: To enable owners of rooftop solar systems to store electricity, Tesla introduces the lithium-ion Powerwall battery pack.
2015: China surpasses Germany to take the top spot globally for installed solar system capacity.
2015: To assist homeowners in determining whether rooftop solar is feasible, Google has launched Project Sunroof.
2016: One million solar installations have been made in the US.
2016: The first emissions-free round-the-world flight is made by Solar Impulse 2.
2016: With solar panel trees in front of City Hall, Las Vegas, Nevada, becomes the largest American city government to run entirely on renewable energy.
2017: More people are employed in the US electricity generation sector by the solar industry. than do fossil fuel industries.
2019: The Dutch North Sea now has the first offshore floating solar farm.
2020: Building a new solar power facility is less expensive than maintaining an active coal power plant.
2020: Solar panels are a requirement for all new homes in California.
2020: Solar, according to the International Energy Agency, is the new king of the electricity markets.”11
2021: To store energy from its 240 megawatt-hours solar farm in California, Apple, Inc. announced it was building the largest lithium-ion battery in the world.
Current Day: Solar Energy Goes Global
The development and application of solar-powered technology in today’s infrastructure, transportation, and devices are still going strong. Global investments in solar parks and farms (both small-scale and large-scale) are still being made.
The power of this renewable resource is in a promising position due to its historical developments and current standing. The UK’s solar future appears to be very promising as it plans to double its solar capacity by 2030!
The Bottom Line
Since 1958, when the first satellite powered by solar energy was launched, solar energy has advanced significantly. The efficiencies of the PV cell are now many times higher than they were before the recent development of nanotechnologies. Today, a typical home can be powered entirely by solar energy with much less roof space and expense.