By Tiar’a Literary & Illustration
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The sun was created by God, but who invented the modern solar energy technology we employ today that reduces our carbon footprint and energy bills?
Everything in life has a nucleus, or [point of origin]. More poignant to our theme and subject matter, in biology we’ll use the word “cell”. Let us begin by briefly studying a human condition that causes interruption to otherwise good health: The upset stomach.
The source of an upset stomach is almost assuredly attributed to eating bad food, right? Well, not always. The source of an upset stomach could be induced by an angry boss yelling at someone for his or her own shortcomings. Essentially, the nucleus, or cell, to the problem may not be what you may presume. The same presumption can be made with other “cells” of origin. Who for example believes that Nicola Tesla, worse yet, Elon “Mr. Aliens” Musk, invented our modern solar energy technology?
Have you ever wondered how modern solar energy technology was created – every pun-intended?
Solar Cells, or Solar Sells, whichever you prefer. Both are true statements. Solar Cells is Solar Panel Doctors’ exclusive monthly column dedicated to our clients and future clients, or whomever is interested in expanding their wealth of knowledge and wisdom. Our column is unique in its delivery and is not offered by any other solar company. Our column’s purpose is to educate, entertain, and inspire.
The true history of modern solar technology (abbreviated):
Solar energy was adopted by humankind as a trusted and limitless source of energy (until the day modern existence ends) since around the 7th century B.C. [Before Christ]. During these days of old when people wore sandals, and when cell phones did not exist. That’s right folks. There was a time when the machines that are glued to your hands and ears did not exist. Some say our world was in many cases better off.
During these ancient days, we, more primitive humans, used, albeit employed the sun’s solar rays to primitively start fires in addition to using our primitive versions of magnifying glasses. According to historians, during the 3rd century B.C., Romans and Greeks were known for their use of the sun’s power. They used mirrors to reflect the sun’s solar rays and used them to light torches. These torches where then used for religious ceremonies.
In more recent times, it was Paris, France born, 19-year-old Edmond Becquerel, French physicist, that discovered the principle behind what we today call “solar energy”.
Edmond has been credited with the discovery of the “photovoltaic effect”: the operating principle behind our modern-day solar “cells”.
The year of Edmond’s discovery was 1839 while he was working late in his father, Antoine Cesar Becquerel’s laboratory, a dark and dingy, musty old dive populated with Bunsen burners, test tubes and such. Edmond was experimenting with photography at the time, and it was one night when he accidentally realized he had founded certain materials capable of generating voltage and electrical current when exposed to light. We must believe that the discovery must have truly, “lit up his night”.
In Edmond’s teenage experiment, he used silver chloride or “silver bromide” to coat platinum electrodes. Once these electrodes were illuminated, voltage and current were thus generated, and hey presto! The disco ball attached to his father’s laboratory lit up and the juke box started playing… Well, not entirely. Edmond’s “Photovoltaic Effect” is also known as the “Becquerel Effect”.
Moving into the modern era of solar energy technology, it was in 1954 that photovoltaic “technology” was packaged by United States based inventors, Daryl Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson. These two gentlemen – presuming that they were gentleman – developed the silicon photovoltaic (PV) cell at Bell Labs. This triumphantly marked the very first solar cell capable of converting enough of the sun’s solar energy into usable power that would run modern electrical equipment. Two years later in 1956, the first ever solar array was made available for purchase to the public. However, at the time the cost per watt was a staggering $300. As you may imagine, only the extremely privileged could afford such novelty. By 1975, the cost per watt had dropped to $100, which, sadly, was still far beyond the majorities reach. Kilowatt prices have continued to decrease by approximately 10% per year – thankfully, and that leads us to the modern solar energy technology.
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