A Brief History of Solar Power

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Ever since the 7th century BC – when humans learned that concentrating the sun’s rays with a magnifying glass could produce fire – solar has been an important influence in human energy use. While humans have used sun power for cooking, battle and lighting fires for thousands of years, the strongest developments in modern solar energy began in the late 1700’s.

Brief History

In 1767, Horace de Saussure, a Swiss scientist, built the world’s first solar collector to build a “Hot Box” that was used to cook food. This is thought to be the first modern application of solar energy. Years later, in 1839, the French scientist Edmond Becquerel had been experimenting with an electrolytic cell consisting of two metal electrodes that he placed in a solution when he discovered that the device generated more electricity when exposed to light. This is the first discovery of the photovoltaic effect. The solar epidemic continued in the 1860s though 1880s, when a French mathematician constructed solar-powered engines.

After the discovery of the photoconductivity of selenium in 1873, an inventor from Baltimore named Clarence Kemp patented the world’s first solar water heater in 1891. Albert Einstein worked on papers about the photoelectric effect in 1905, and he won the Nobel Prize for his work in 1921. The world’s first modern solar collector was invented in 1908 by an employee of the Carnegie Steel Company.After the discovery of the photoconductivity of selenium in 1873, an inventor from Baltimore named Clarence Kemp patented the world’s first solar water heater in 1891. Albert Einstein worked on papers about the photoelectric effect in 1905, and he won the Nobel Prize for his work in 1921. The world’s first modern solar collector was invented in 1908 by an employee of the Carnegie Steel Company.

By 1947, the lack of energy in the US caused a high demand for solar buildings – and modern photovoltaic solar came about in 1954 when three scientists were able to develop a PV cell capable of running machinery. Since this development, solar has continued to grow into a powerful source of energy and powering buildings around the world.

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