December 2, 2022

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The History of the Solar Panel: A Quick Guide

The use of solar panels is rapidly increasing as more people consider using renewable energy for their homes and businesses.

You may not know the background of solar panels and what role they play in our world today, but the backstory is quite interesting.

Read on to learn about the history of the solar panel so you can be informed about its unique story and how it got to where it is today.

The Discovery of Solar Energy

It might surprise you to know that the first scientist to discover the principle of solar energy was a French physicist named Edmond Becquerel. He first observed a process called the photovoltaic effect, which is when voltage or electric current is produced after being exposed to light or radiant energy.

Into the late 1800s, more scientists began to investigate the scenario in real-world applications. By 1860, French mathematician Augustin Mouchot registered patents for solar-powered engines. 

Soon, inventors in the United States were interested in these patents as well. They soon began to file for their own patents for solar-powered devices in the 1880s.

Modern History of the Solar Panel

Over the decades, the general public largely ignored scientists’ interests in harvesting solar energy. However, in the 1950s, NASA began asking researchers at Bell Laboratories to look for a reliable way to generate energy to survive the harsh environment of space. They soon found that silicon was the best way to increase solar efficiency in their solar cells.

By 1972, every American satellite was operating on solar power and promoting the use of silicon-based solar cell production. By 1973, as oil prices began to skyrocket, developing renewable energy became a much more important task for the United States to pursue.

Over the years the urgency to look more deeply into solar panel benefits waned until the 1980s and 1990s when the technology slowly improved. By the 21st century, people were finally ready to adopt the idea of getting a consultation for solar panel installation in their homes.

The Importance of Solar Energy

While the history of the solar panel was a struggle, things like climate change and carbon emissions are changing the public’s view. After the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, more countries began to adopt policies that promoted the use of solar power.

By 2005, the U.S. instituted solar tax credits for individuals, despite not being a part of the Kyoto Protocol. Now, demand for solar panels has increased and more consumers and homeowners are looking for ways to use renewable energy in their homes.

Since solar panels use silicon, production levels fluctuate, which also means that prices change rapidly. Regardless, eco-friendly homeowners are still interested in finding out how adding solar panels can benefit not just them, but the planet as a whole.

Go Solar

Although the history of the solar panel has been a struggle, it has made great strides in recent decades. With the right education, more people will adopt the concept of using this resource of renewable, clean energy.

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