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As the old cliché goes, you may not know where you are going until you know where you have been. That saying holds true for Solar Power. Whilst Solar may seem like a new technology, it can be traced as far back as the 7th century B.C. to today where it is rapidly expanding across the globe.It’s a consistent source of energy that has existed since the beginning of time and will continue to provide mankind with affordable, clean electricity in the face of declining crude oil and gas supplies.  For those who are interested, here’s a brief history of the key developments of the technology.

  1. During 7th century B.C. to the 1200s A.D. ,magnifying glasses and mirrors were used to harness the sun’s rays to create fires and light torches. Sunrooms also became commonplace for the Greeks and Romans as a way to capture the sun’s rays to create warmth.
  2. In 1876 a major breakthrough came about when Professor William Grylis Adams from King’s College in London and his student Richard Evans Day discovered that light could be converted into electricity using the element selenium. However, selenium itself could not convert enough light to power electrical equipment.
  3. In 1908 William J Bailey of the Carnegie Steel Company in the USA invented a solar collector box design that formed the basis of modern day solar panels
  4. Photovoltaic technology as we know it today was born in 1954 when Americans Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller and Gerald Pearson developed the first solar cell that could produce enough electricity to power small electrical devices.
  5. Two years later in 1956 Hoffamn Electrics in America made the first commercial solar panels for people to buy at $300 per 1-watt solar cell. Today the cost per 1-watt solar cell is around $0.35!
  6. In 1958 NASA launched Vanguard 1, the world’s first solar-powered satellite which is still in space 59 years later.
  7. The first solar powered aircraft took flight in 1981 when Paul MacCready flew from France to England. The plane had a total of 16,000 solar panels on its wings
  8. One year later in 1982 the first ever solar powered plant was completed in California by ARCO Solar with a capacity of 1MW
  9. By 2013 Chinese manufacturing companies had built many large scale solar module production factories reducing the cost of solar to $0.70 per watt
  10. In 2015 TESLA Motor Company announced that it would launch an affordable lithium iron battery that would be affordable for people so that they could store power generated during the day for use at night.

 

These are the humble beginnings of solar technology-invented to harness   the power of sunlight.If you will like to know more about solar products that you can use for domestic or industrial purposes, click here

 Resources consulted:
Department of Energy

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