World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day
Environmental Renewable Energy

The History of Solar Generated Power

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The History Of Solar Generated Power

by Will Reece

Copyright 2005

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 to


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 electricity.

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 consumers.

.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


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 so


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

along with other alternative energy sites. For more information

regarding solar power, visit us online at

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