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History of Solar Energy

Solar Energy History from 400 B.C. to the present day advances.Even when the supply of fossil fuels seemed endless, there were those who were interested in harnessing the power of the sun for energy. In 400 B.C. the Greeks were the first to implement the sun’s rays for heat. During this time they began to orient the placement of their houses to trap solar heat during winter.


Even though the first solar collector was built by Swiss scientist Horace de Saussure in 1767, it would be another century before French inventor Auguste Mouchout would patent a design for a motor to run on solar energy. His devices turned solar energy into steam power.


In 1878 the first book about solar energy, A Substitute for Fuel in Tropical Countries was written by William Adams. Using mirrors Adams was able to power a 2.5 horsepower steam engine. His design known as the Power Tower Concept is still in use today. The photovoltaic effect or the production of electricity directly form the sun was discovered by Frenchman Henry Becquerel in 1890. In 1891 American Clarence Kemp received a patent for the first solar water heater.


The early 1900’s brings more knowledge and improvement to the quest for solar power. In 1904 Henry Willsie built two plants in California. Willsie was the first person to use solar power at night after generating it during the day. Still he was not able to make sales and his solar company folded.

The 1950’s brings more development in the solar energy sector. The first solar water heating system was placed in a commercial building as the primary source for interior heat. The first commercial solar cells was also made available to the public. Space programs made extensive use of solar power from the early 1960’s to present day.

By the end of the 1970’s there were over 100 solar manufacturers in the United States. With the energy crisis of the seventy’s, the realization of the importance of solar energy to replace traditional energy methods became clear. From that point until today solar energy has gradually received more and more interest and support.

Today there is a renewed focus on solar energy. More people are recognizing the need and the advantage of solar power. Solar cells are powering an array of items from household appliances to cars. Solar electric systems now power many homes and commercial businesses. The future of solar power to provide inexhaustible power supply at affordable costs is great.