What is solar panel?
Today we would like to talk about who invented solar panels. But firstly let us have an idea of solar panels. The term solar panel is used colloquially for a photo-voltaic (PV) module.
A PV module is an assembly of photo-voltaic cells mounted in a framework for installation. Photo-voltaic cells use sunlight as a source of energy and generate direct current electricity. A collection of PV modules is called a PV Panel, and a system of Panels is an Array. Arrays of a photovoltaic system supply solar electricity to electrical equipment.
The most common application of solar energy collection outside agriculture is solar water heating systems and solar power plant systems. Now let us talk about who invented solar panels.
When the solar cell was invented, it set a change in motion for energy production. This change would iterate over hundreds of years in the hands of various physicists and engineers. The history of solar energy is a fascinating story of innovation and progress.
Who invented solar panels?
Solar energy is actually nothing new. People have used solar power as far back in history as the 7th century B.C. In its most primitive state, energy from the sun has been revered and put to use almost as long as man has walked the earth.
The earliest uses of solar power included focusing the sun’s energy through a magnifying glass to start fires for cooking. By the 3rd century B.C., Greeks and Romans bounced sunlight off of “burning mirrors” to light sacred torches for religious ceremonies. We can not find who invented solar panels at that time.
Sunrooms were invented in ancient times to capture solar energy for its natural warmth. These usually south-facing rooms have captured and concentrated sunlight from the famous Roman bathhouses to Native American adobes, and are still popular today in many modern homes.
One legend in Greek solar history is of the scientist Archimedes setting fire to besieging wooden ships from the Roman Empire. The story goes that he reflected the sun’s light energy off of bronze shields, concentrating the rays and attacking the enemy before they made landfall.
Think of it as a kind of ancient solar laser beam. Whether this actually happened in Archimedes’ time or not is unverified. But this experiment in solar power was tested by the Greek navy in the 1970s. They did set fire to a wooden test ship 50 meters away using nothing but the legendary bronze shield and the solar light energy. We can not find who invented solar panels at that time.
Solar power cell technology invented
In 1839, French physicist Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect while experimenting with a cell made of metal electrodes in a conducting solution. He noted that the cell produced more electricity when it was exposed to light.
Later in 1873, Willoughby Smith discovered that selenium could function as a photoconductor.
Just three years later, in 1876 William Grylls Adams and Richard Evans Day applied the photovoltaic principle discovered by Becquerel to selenium. They recorded that it could, in fact, generate electricity when exposed to light.
Almost 50 years after the photovoltaic effect’s discovery, in 1883, American inventor Charles Fritz created the first working selenium solar cell. Though we use silicon in cells for modern solar panels, this solar cell was a major precursor to the technology used today.
In a way, many physicists played a part in solar cell invention. Becquerel is attributed with uncovering the potential of the photovoltaic effect, and Fritz with actually creating the ancestor to all solar cells. Now we have a clear idea of who invented solar panels.
Awareness and production of solar technology
Albert Einstein had a role to play in bringing the world’s attention to solar energy and its potential. In 1905, Einstein published a paper on the photoelectric effect and how light carries energy. This generated more attention and acceptance for solar power on a broader scale.
The big leap toward the solar cells like the ones used in panels today came from the work of Bell Labs in 1954. Three scientists there, Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson, created a more practical solar cell using silicon. Now we have a clear idea of who invented solar panels.
Advantages to silicon are better efficiency and its wide availability as a natural resource.
As the space age developed, solar panels were used to power various parts of spacecraft throughout the late 1950s and 1960s. The first was the Vanguard I satellite in 1958, followed by Vanguard II, Explorer III, and Sputnik-3.
In 1964, NASA launched the Nimbus satellite, which ran entirely on its 470-watt photovoltaic solar panel array. It wouldn’t be long now until solar energy’s potential moved from outer space to homes and businesses on planet earth. Now you should know the idea of who invented solar panels?
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