Renewable energy

Let the Light in – The History of Solar Power

We all know about the benefits of solar panels. Over the last decade, they have become an increasingly common sight in Australian towns and cities. Even if you don’t have any on the roof of your home, you might have thought about it a little. It may interest you to know that, in fact, the cost of installation continues to drop at a rapid rate and many providers don’t ask for any money upfront at all!

For instance, if you invest in solar power from AGL, there is nothing to pay until your custom plan begins. This allows homeowners to split the cost of solar panels over a two or five-year timeframe. So, it could be time to explore the possibilities of solar energy and find out what this amazing technology can do for your family.

First, we’re going to learn a little about where solar panels come from and how they came to be originally invented. Keep reading to find out more.

Older Than You Think

Most people are surprised to find out that solar panels (or photovoltaic cells, as they’re also known) were invented way back in 1876. Eminent scientist William Grylls Adams, with the help of his apprentice Richard Day, discovered a strange reaction when selenium was exposed to natural daylight.

It produced electricity and without the need for moving parts. While these early selenium cells were only minimally successful, they were the beginning of a quest to capture and harness the power of the sun.

Chasing The Sun

It wasn’t until 1953 that physical chemist Calvin Fuller, physicist Gerald Pearson and engineer Daryl Chapin created the silicon solar cell. This was much more efficient than the selenium device and it could be used to power small electrical devices.

The New York Times called the find “the start of a new era”. It ran a widely read editorial on the future potential of this sun catching machine. Remarkably, it took just three more years for the first commercially available cells to hit the market.

Building A New Future

The problem was that these first solar cells carried huge price tags. Just a single one-watt cell was sold for $300; a mammoth cost in the fifties. Nevertheless, the general public began to see the new technology in home radios and other items.

The benefits were immediately obvious to the US and Russian governments, both of which invested heavily in solar technologies for their respective space programs. In fact, the countries sent several solar powered satellites into space during the 1960s.

Making Energy Affordable

During the early ‘70s, the cost of solar cells began to drop. The average cost of a watt eventually settled at around $20. In Australia, they started to appear on top of houses, but generally only in very remote locations.

Today, solar technology continues to get more advanced and sophisticated. The big difference, however, is that it’s widely available. Solar roof panels are within the budget of almost all households. Even if you don’t have much money, you can split the cost over years.

Why Solar Panels Are The Right Choice For You

The thing to understand about solar energy (and other types of sustainable energy) is that it’s fast becoming a necessity. The relentless march of global warming is forcing households to re-evaluate their impact on the world. We need to cause less damage to our surroundings.

Solar panels are a great way to do this because they require minimal maintenance. Once they’re installed, you don’t have to do much to make them a success. It is a good idea to work with a provider that offers technical support but, otherwise, they will look after themselves.

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