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Solar Energy: The Evolution Of Solar Panels


Solar panels have come a long way in the past decade. What we once thought of as a fringe way to draw power has become one of the leading renewable energy sources. Solar technology made massive leaps forward recently, which has contributed to its success. There are also tax incentives for individuals and businesses to go solar.

If you want to learn about how far solar power has come, you’re in the right place. Let’s examine how solar energy has changed with the evolution of solar panels.

The Earliest Origins of Solar Power

We tend to think of solar panels as new technology, but that’s not entirely true. Scientists have been brainstorming how to harness the sun’s power for over 200 years. The first significant step forward came in 1839, when Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect. This effect occurs when a material produces electricity after being exposed to sunlight. In 1888, Aleksandr Stoletov created the world’s first solar cell, basing his process on the outer photoelectric effect. That occurs when electrons are emitted due to exposure to sunlight.


Early Adoptions of Solar Panels

Albert Einstein would bring solar power to the mainstream in 1904 by publishing a study on the photoelectric effect. 1955 saw the first commercial sale of solar panels. Hoffman Electrics was able to produce solar cells with 10% efficiency. The price was $25 per cell for commercial companies.

The Solar Power Corporation came about in the 1970s. During this time, the efficiency of solar panels increased while the price per watt of solar power decreased, making it more affordable to the public.

For many years, the only practical use for solar panels was for space flight. Space stations also used solar panels to generate electricity.


Emergence in the Private Sector

In 1991, President George H. W. Bush created the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Its purpose was to drive the research and development of solar power and solar panels. Thanks to these contributions, solar energy became a viable option for homeowners. In today’s age, solar panels are everywhere. You see them on houses, commercial businesses, and more.

That’s a brief rundown of the evolution of solar panels. As you can see, it’s been a long journey from common misconceptions to where we are today. We’re bound to see more innovations and more widespread use of solar panels in the future.

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