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What Were The First Solar Panels Like?

Solar panels are clearly the energy source of the future, but how did we get to the point we are now? How do today’s panels compare to solar energy in the past? Our pros will take you through history!

Solar Energy

Of course, it really depends on how you define solar energy. People have been relying on the sun’s energy for our entire history. Concepts like using natural sunlight to heat a space have been around for years. The Greeks and Romans used mirrors to concentrate sunlight for various purposes. These can all be considered uses of solar energy, but the idea of solar panels didn’t come into imaginations of humanity until the invention of the photovoltaic cell in 1839 by French physicist, Edmond Becquerel.

Innovations That Followed

Since that time multiple inventors from different countries improved on the technology. American Charles Fritts invented the first solid-state photovoltaic cell in 1883. It was only 1% efficient but laid the groundwork for the future. In the 20th Century, the beginnings of space exploration pushed solar energy innovations. Still, the technology remained inaccessible and far too expensive for any widespread use. In the 70s, it cost nearly $100 per watt of energy generated. To give you a better idea of the scale of that, it takes a few hundred watts to power a television. Luckily, innovators kept pushing things forward. Nowadays, a watt of solar energy costs pocket change to install.

As we learn more and more about how to capture the sun’s free energy more efficiently, our relationship with energy, electricity, and technology is changing. Companies like Tesla are shifting something as seemingly fundamental as the automobile. With climate change and the uncertainty of the grid, it’s clear that using this new technology with a long history of innovation is the way of the future.

To learn more about a solar installation for your home or business, contact our team at Energy Concepts at (559) 377-7080.