The history of solar cell

The history of solar cell

Science is only getting to know the true potential of solar energy, more and more industries and homes from all around the globe are starting to use it to generate the electricity they need, but this is a revolution that is just getting started, and right know we can’t even imagine how far solar energy will reach in the following decades.

However Solar Energy has come a long way to get where we are, and its history started a long time ago…

The first to use sunlight in a way that can be compared to solar energy were the Greeks and the Romans, they designed their houses to utilise sunlight as much as they could during the day, and this is a great piece of evidence that since the dawn of civilization, humanity has tried to use the power of the sun.

The first known discovery of solar energy relating to electricity was in 1839, when a French Physicist called Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect of an electrode that was exposed to light, in the upcoming years, other scientist also discovered this same effect using different kinds of elements, but the first real attempt to generate electricity took place in 1878, when another Frenchman  called Augustin Mouchot created a solar power generator, that was displayed at the Universal Exhibition in Paris, however Mouchots invention had less than a 1% efficiency so it couldn’t be use for powering any kind of machine.

Edmond_Becquerel_by_NadarIn 1888, a Russian scientist created the first known solar cell that was based on the photovoltaic effect, and the words “solar cell” started to be patented by several scientists in different countries.

Since then, several scientists, including Albert Einstein studied the photovoltaic effect and its possibly uses to generate electricity, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that the technology reached the point where it could start powering appliances, the first practical use for solar cells was made by the company Bell Labs, that created solar cells for space activities (specially powering up the firsts satellites).

satellite-350That same company announced in 1954 the creation of the first practical silicon solar cells, that same year the New York Times forecasted solar energy was going to be an infinite source of power for mankind. Yet solar still had a long way to go since those times,  the existing solar cells only had an efficiency of 15%, making them useless to power  most  appliances and machines.

The solar cell technology continued to be developed in the upcoming decades, in 1978 a great breakthrough was made when the first solar powered calculators were launched, many say that was the first time solar powered electricity was available to the general public.

solar-powered-lamp-post_m19rBE-1Since then solar energy and solar cells started conquering more and more territory, many governments started using them for powering up state buildings, the solar cells started to be used to power up houses in remote locations, and even some industries started using them for their factories.

Just a few months ago, the University of New South Wales established a new world record, for unfocused sunlight conversion to electricity with an efficiency increase to 34.5%.

Solar cells have come a long way, and they sure have a long way to go until solar energy is available for all of us. Here at Tempco Energy Solutions we take a lot of pride in being a part of this history, and for making solar energy available for a lot of people in our district.