Solcium Solar

A Brief History of Solar

infographic with a timeline of significant events in the history of solar

It’s hard to imagine some of today’s wildest technologies being anything but a new concept in the modern world. As quickly as technology evolves, our minds assume that these capabilities are recently discovered and developed. 

However, the concept of solar energy has been around since 1839, when a physicist by the name of Edmond Becquerel stumbled upon the photovoltaic effect, where an electric current is produced through sunlight or radiant energy. 

Building upon this discovery, a mathematician in France named Augustin Mouchot was the first to register a patent for a solar-powered engine in the 1860’s. In 1883, Charles Fritts, an inventor in New York constructed the first solar cell by layering a thin sheet of gold coat over selenium. This small solar cell converted only 1 percent of energy, in comparison to today’s 20 percent converting panels. Through the next several decades, the solar cell went through various models and patents, leading to the invention of the thermo battery by H.C. Reagan, Jr. in 1897.

After several years of development, solar panel technology took flight when a new material for solar cells was discovered. In the 1950s, Daryl Chapin, Gerald Pearson and Calvin Fuller – inventors employed by Bell Laboratories – worked tirelessly to create the perfect specimen of solar cells, ultimately announcing the modern silicon solar cell in April of 1954. 

That’s when solar took flight – quite literally. In 1958, solar panel radios were installed on the Vanguard I satellite with NASA launching a spacecraft entirely powered by solar in 1964.

Solar was considered a luxury item due to the cost of constructing the multiple silicon cells it took to compile an entire panel until the 1970s energy crisis prompted Congress to pass the Solar Energy Research, Development and Demonstration ACt of 1974 which vowed to make solar an affordable option on the market. Growth of the solar industry continued through support by the Solar Investment Tax Credit in 2006, seeing a growth rate of over 50 percent over the last decade. 

During that time, pricing for solar technology continues to become more affordable and is always evolving. Nowadays, you are seeing new trends, like solar roof tiles or sunless solar panels, are hitting the market. 

Solcium Solar guarantees that each install is constructed with the highest quality of equipment for the lowest price with the best warranties on the market. Learn more about today’s modern photovoltaic technology by booking a no-obligation educational consultation with Solcium Solar.


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Solcium Solar provides a full suite of end-to-end renewable energy solutions including education, design, and installation services.

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