Solar Power Guide

Solar Energy History -
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The history of solar energy is as colorful as it is full of destroyed dreams. Most early researchers were forced to abandon their work either on account of abrupt withdrawal of funds provided by charitable monarchs that had suddenly lost interest in solar power or more interesting projects enticed them away. But John Ericsson, an American immigrant from Sweden in 1868 had the foresight to say, “A couple of thousand years dropped in the ocean of time will completely exhaust the coal fields of Europe, unless the heat of the sun is employed”. He was able to develop a solar powered steam engine that was similar in design to earlier models made by sundry researchers that finally failed to function.

Solar Energy History

Fancy the misfortune of Aubrey Eneas who in 1892 formed the first solar energy company and called it The Solar Motor Co that sold the first Solar Energy System to Dr. A.J. Chandler of Arizona for $2,160. As luck would have it, the system was destroyed in a windstorm less than a week later. The second unit sold to one John May sometime later suffered the same fate as it was ruined by a hailstorm shortly afterwards. This tolled the death knoll for the company and the founder who could not withstand the shock and he died a miserable death.

But the seeds have been already planted by these early efforts. The early part of the 20th Century saw several developments in solar powered devices when in 1904 Henry Willsie felt the need for storing generated power and so built two enormous plants in California. That made him the first man to use solar power at night. But that did not solve Henri’s problems and he too had to close down because none agreed to buy his devices.

In 1906, Frank Shuman opened his Sun Power Co and built the largest most cost-effective solar energy system that covered more than 10,000 square feet. But Shuman’s mission was not successful since the plant produced enough steam but no pressure to run an engine. Accepting defeat, he took a partner and renaming the company as Sun Power Company Ltd. he, along with one E.P. Haines went of Egypt and built a giant irrigation plant just outside of Cairo. However, misfortune chased him there too and the plant was destroyed completely during the Great War.

The first positive sign in favor of generation of solar energy was sighted in 1954 when Calvin Fuller, Gerald Pearson and Daryl Chaplin of Bell Laboratories fortuitously discovered the use of silicon as a semi-conductor. This led to the formation of solar panel that had an efficiency rate of 6% at the maximum.

However, within the next couple of years (precisely 1956) the first solar cell reached the public at a fantastic price of $300 per watt and was soon used in portable radios and other expensive novelties.

Then in 1958 came that ceremonial occasion when solar technologies were included in Space Programs. Vanguard, the first satellite that used solar energy to generate electricity was launched in the same year. From whatever angle one may look at the fast development of solar energy from then onward, none can deny the fact that the energy crisis of the seventies, heralded by the oil embargo had actually given it the first shot in the arm. And as a result the price of a solar cell dropped dramatically from $300 per watt to $20 per watt.

But the next turn of events had given the solar energy history a jarring stunt. Luz Co of Los Angeles that produced 95% of the world’s solar based electricity was forced to shut their doors as investors made themselves scarce from the project since the price of non-renewable fossil fuels projected a decline and the future of state and federal incentives on it became dubious.

However, things are looking up now. There is a renewed focus on the topic as people are convinced about the far reaching benefits of solar energy that could possibly change the entire outlook on the renewable energy front.

The history of solar power tells us that its popularity has been on the increase for a long time. And why not, since there are obvious financial as well as ecological benefits. You can also set up a system at home – just ensure that you know a few things such as where exactly to set it up, how to install it, where to get the parts cheaply from, how to get free batteries, how to wire the system and also what are the safety precautions that need to be followed when you are installing the home solar power system.

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