160 Years of Photovoltaic Technology Most people are surprised to learn that photovoltaic technology actually dates back over 160 years. The basic science was first discovered in 1839 but the pace of advancement really accelerated in three major thrusts in the 20th century.
with metal electrodes and electrolyte, nineteen-year-old French physicist
Alexandre Edmond Becquerel observes a physical phenomenon allowing
Fritts, an American inventor, describes the first solar cells made
from selenium wafers
Weston receives first US patent for "solar cell"
Tesla receives US patent for "method of utilizing, and apparatus
for the utlization of, radiant energy"
Albert Einstein Makes His Mark
It wasn't until Albert Einstein wrote his 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect: "On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light".
Einstein publishes paper on theory behind “photoelectric effect”
along with paper on relativity theory
Millikan provided experimental proof of Einstein’s theory
on photoelectric effect
wins Nobel prize for 1904 paper on photoelectric effect
The Commercial Solar Age Begins
Bell Laboratories, while working on silicon semiconductors, discovered silicon had photoelectric properties and quickly developed Si solar cells, achieving 6% efficiency and early satellites were the primary use for these first solar cells.
Labs exhibits first high-power silicon PV cell. The New York
Times forcasts that solar cells will eventually lead to a source
energy of the sun".
Electric sells commercial licenses for silicon PV technologies; early
successful products include PV-powered dollar bill changers and devices
that decoded computer punch cards and tape.
array powers radios on US Vanguard I space satellite
Corporation produces a viable photovoltaic module of silicon solar
cells. Japan installs a 242-watt PV array on a lighthouse, the world's
largest array at that time.
launches Orbiting Astronomical Observatory with a 1-kilowatt PV array
drives PV costs down 80%, allowing for applications such as offshore
navigation warning lights and horns lighthouses, railroad crossings,
and remote use where utility-grid connections are too costly
Corp is founded by two ex-NASA scientists who worked on the development
of satellite PV systems
formulates “Project Sunshine” to fuel PV research
Corp begins production of Silicon ribbon crystal solar modules
Dept. of Energy establishes US Solar Energy Research Institute in
improvements in efficiency and cost enables PV to become a popular
power source for consumer electronic devices, such as calculators,
watches, radios, lanterns and other small battery charging applications
Progressive Governments Use Subsidies to Speed Adoption
To spur adoption, Germany and then Japan initiated considerable subsidy programs and now those markets exist largely without subsidies. In 2007, California leads the US with a similar 10-year program.
launches $500MM “100,000 Solar Roofs” program. The
Cathedral of Magdeburg installs solar cells on the roof, marking
the first installation on a church in East Germany
George H. W. Bush directs the U.S. Department of Energy to estalish
the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (transerring the existing
Solar Energy Research Institute) in Sandia, NM
Japan begins "70,000 Solar Roofs" PV subsidy program
initiates $112MM “Emerging Renewables Program” to fund
rebates for <30 kW residential and commercial PV systems
Public Utilities Commission begins $100MM “Self Generation Incentive
Program” for >30 kW PV projects
manufacturers — Sharp, Kyocera, Shell Solar, BP Solar and RWE
SCHOTT Solar — account for 60 percent of the PV market. GE
buys Astropower, the last remaining US independent PV manufacturer
The CA PUC demonstrates leadership by outlining what will become the California Solar Initiative (CSI), a 10-year, $3 billion solar subsidy program.
The CSI program begins and is well received by the market, with higher than expected application volume.
Your company joins the fast-growing list of California business leaders who adopt solar power for their business with Sunlight Electric.