Solar energy has become a popular conversation topic in recent years, as more and more solar panels have started popping up in Las Vegas, Denver, and other major cities across the nation. Nowadays, many home and business owners alike are making the switch to solar in order to lower their energy bills and do their part to protect the environment. But how did the whole thing start, and will it ever die down? Here, our experts at Zoetic Solar will briefly outline the history of solar power, from its discovery and following industry inventions to some of the most common ways it is used today.
Solar energy wasn’t always available to us in the form of freestanding solar panels and solar roof tiles. In fact most humans were not even aware of their potential to harness solar energy and transform it into electricity until long after the Ancient Egyptians started using the sun to heat black tiles in pools of water throughout the day, which would keep palaces warm at night as it flowed through the pipes. The Greeks and Romans also began manipulating the sun’s power as early as 300 B.C., when they learned how to use magnifying glass to light fires and torches by deflecting sunlight onto a flammable surface.
In addition to these creative methods of recycling warmth and starting fires, there were many other creative uses for solar energy well before the age of technology. When building bathhouses and sunrooms, for example, ancient peoples would strategically face windows toward the south so that they could capture as much heat as possible during the day. Much later, when the Industrial Revolution was taking place, a French physicist named Alexandre Edmond Becquerellar officially discovered the photovoltaic effect — the process by which solar cells transform sun rays into energy.
It wasn’t until 40-plus years after Becquerellar’s discovery that an American inventor named Charles Fritts designed and invented the first rooftop solar panels in New York, which were a very weak source of energy at the time. In 1905, Albert Einstein expanded on his idea, explaining the photoelectric effect that takes place when sunlight is converted into usable energy. From there, expensive photovoltaic cells were created, then gained funding from the U.S. military for further research about the possibility of powering satellites — starting with the Vanguard I, which we discussed in our last blog post.
Facing an impending energy crisis due to the Emergency Petroleum Allocation Act of 1973, the U.S. government officially recognized solar energy as a possible solution. From there, government officials passed the Solar Heating and Cooling Demonstration Act of 1974, which mandated that major federal buildings start implementing solar heating and cooling units as a way of pioneering the commercial shift to solar. And, as they say, the rest is history.
Since the expansion of solar heating and cooling units to federal buildings in the late 70s, the solar industry has gone wild. What started as a simple distribution of solar units to major commercial spaces quickly evolved into the creation of solar parks, or solar power plants, in 1982, which could power many commercial buildings at once. From there, retractable RV solar panels were invented to power campers, travel trailers, and other kinds of recreational vehicles, which is still a common practice used today. Around the same time, the aerospace industry started dabbling with solar energy as a way to power planes, though it will be quite some time before this becomes the norm and passengers will be allowed onboard.
In the early 2000s, solar panels became a popular way to convert solar energy into electricity for homes, and solar farms emerged in big dark-blue waves across the nation. Do-it-yourself solar panel kits are partially to thank for this because they made it possible for the average Joe to make the switch to solar on his own (for the most part). This led to a major industry focus on residential solar panels as a whole, as solar companies began to compete for the most efficient and visually appealing models and designs.
2015 was a big year for the solar industry, and has revolutionized the way home and business owners around the world buy and use solar panels. It marked the invention of flexible solar panels, which are printed at industrial volumes and can produce around 50 watts of energy per square meter. This method has proved to be one of the most affordable ways for people to make the switch to solar, which is becoming a practical reality for those on a budget. Since then, recent advancements in the solar power industry have integrated this technology with many different kinds of residential solar panels, which is a whole other story in itself.
Make The Switch To Solar With Zoetic Solar Panels
We hope you enjoyed this brief history of solar power and that this post has sparked an interest about the solar industry as a whole. If you are ready to make the switch to solar panels for your home or business, contact our experts at Zoetic Solar today! We would be happy to design and create your residential or commercial solar panels, as well as provide you with a free quote and a professional solar panel installation.