History Of Solar
The sun our nearest star produces solar energy that is present in the form of sunlight. Solar Energy has been used for thousands of years by different people all over the world. Traditionally sunlight has been used for heating, drying and cooking.
In the year 1838 Edmund Becquerel observed and published findings about the nature of materials to turn light into small amounts of electrical current. The power of Photovoltaic (PV) had thus been realized. Photovoltaic (PV) is a word that describes converting sunlight into electricity: (photo) meaning pertaining to light (voltaic) meaning producing voltage.
Since Mr. Becquerel’s findings in 1838, solar energy has continued to make small steps forward, but it wasn’t for another 100 years until solar really took off. In the year 1954 Mr. Calvin Fuller, Mr. Gerald Pearson and Mr. Daryl Chaplin of Bell Laboratories accidently discovered the use of silicon as a semi-conductor. This led to the construction of a solar panel with an efficiency rate of 6%. In 1958 the space program launched Vanguard I, and this was the first satellite to use solar energy to generate electricity.
In 1970 the OPEC Oil Embargo (Energy Crisis) led to the real need for other alternative forms of energy other than coal, oil and gas. So, in the 1970’s & 1980’s solar energy started to make its way into mainstream as a viable alternative energy source. The cost to manufacture solar cells had dropped drastically during this time to $20 a watt.
Today solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are a lot more cost efficient and are now being used to power homes, businesses, household appliances, cars, etc.
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels today are currently available in (3) main silicon based technologies:
- Monocrystalline (PV) – Monocrystalline silicon is the base material of the monocrystalline cell. These cells use very pure silicon and involve a complicated crystal growth process. These cells are the most efficient and the most expensive.
- Polycrystalline (PV) – Polycrystalline are composed of a number of smaller crystals or crystallites and known as multicrystalline solar cells. These are almost as efficient as the monocrystalline cells and are less expensive to produce. (Most commonly used today.)
- Amorphous (PV) – Amorphous is the most cost effective technology. These perform better on cloudy days; however they are a lot less efficient and therefore require much more installation space.