History of Solar Energy
During the Industrial Revolution of the mid-1800’s, it was discovered that light could be converted to electricity using selenium. The selenium cells were not very efficient, but the discovery proved that creating energy from the sun was an exciting possibility. Fast forward to 1953, when the first silicon solar cell was designed. This type of cell produced more electricity than selenium, leading the New York Times to predict that its development marked “the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of harnessing the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.” Starting in 1956, solar cells were available in the marketplace, but they were far too expensive for the average consumer. During the space race of the 1950s and 1960s, both the US and the Soviet Union powered their satellites using solar energy. In the 1970s, which saw an international oil embargo, the reality that we will not be able to rely on fossil fuels indefinitely started to sink in. More and more, the world began embracing the sun as a viable alternative energy source. During this time frame, the price of solar cells dropped, making them more accessible to the average person. Over the last few decades since the 70s, advancements in solar cell manufacturing and technology have made solar alternatives even more economical and practical today, and now solar panel installations are more popular than ever. Federal, state and local governments often offer tax incentives and rebates for those who invest in solar for their residential and commercial properties.