Solar energy was there for human beings ever since the inception of this world. It is a great source of energy that could be utilized in several productive ways to fulfill our key needs. The power behind that source was released quite early and was subsequently used in different things.
The usage of solar energy dates back to 7th century BC, which had just the basic usage for lighting fire using a magnifying glass. However, over some time, things evolved and solar energy was maximized for several different needs.
Uses of Solar Energy in the Past
Solar energy has always been a part of our lives working for us in a way or another. Though we can say that its use has become more sophisticated these days with an increase in inventions and machines that can utilize these power source by converting into electrical energy.
Previously solar energy has been used in its natural form, heating, drying and the form of solar light in the daytime.
Today, the usage of solar energy has been changed greatly. But we can surely say that this source of energy has been there for mankind right from the start.
Here we’ll be discussing the different ways we have been using solar energy so far to understand how it has affected its usage today.
As a kid in school or even otherwise, many of us have tried that game of burning a piece of paper through sunlight while using a magnifying glass. The ancient civilization as early as in the 7th century BC was using this technique to fulfill some of their major needs. They used it for lighting fire. It is also known for the Romans and Greeks to have been using mirrors for the sake of lighting torches for their religious rituals.
Sometimes, the technique was also used in ancient times for burning the ships of the enemy. Moreover, the homes and washrooms then had strategically placed window openings so that the sunlight could get in for heating the water tanks. On the flip side, the water tanks were also sometimes strategically built at a place where they could get the maximum sunlight.
Solar energy has been used in nearly all aspects of life in ancient times. for daily usage at home in cooking, and managing other household chores in a way or another.
For drying food items, fruits, and vegetables, seeds, and spices. This has given rise to the various practices for preserving food items. Meat and other groceries were dried under the sun for long term storage as well.
Discovery of the Photovoltaic Effect
This discovery was the era of 1700 to 1800. It was the time when the first patents associated with the solar energy panel collectors started to surface up. This also included the induction of solar water heaters then. In 1839, Edmond Becquerel, a scientist discovered for the first time the photovoltaic effect. It was discovered by experimenting with the electrolytic cells.
In 1873, Willoughby Smith, another scientist discovered the fact that selenium could also work as a photoconductor. After another 3 years, scientist Richard Evans and William Grylls applied the principle of photovoltaic to selenium. It worked and produced electricity when that was exposed to sunlight.
This was a breakthrough discovery in the solar energy domain, which eventually opened new horizons for mankind to further maximize the usage of this powerful solar energy into much bigger needs.
This was the era of 1900 or 1908 to be precise when the first solar collector was produced. It was something very similar to what we still use today. This revolution came 3 years after the research paper published on the photoelectric effect. It helped Einstein to win the noble prize for the year.
During World War II time, the shortage of energy led to the dissemination of the passive solar buildings in the U.S. and also for the “solar houses” research publication books and the architects. It took a good few years then and in 1954, the very first of the silicon photovoltaic cell got created. It was unlike the selenium predecessor. It could generate a good amount of energy to power electrical equipment. The solar efficiency generated than was about 4% as compared to 20% that we have today.
Solar Power Devices
It was right after the discovery of the solar cell, several new inventions started to flow in using the same basis. The first solar-powered device got introduced in the market solar technologies like solar water heating became part of some commercial buildings. Satellite is one of the most common applications of those early solar cells.
In 1970, a cost-effective and efficient version of the silicon solar cell was produced. This era marked the foundation of the commercialization of the solar panels.
Common Solar Panel Systems
In 2000, the most effective and efficient solar panels were introduced. It was the time when solar technology became far more accessible to common people and not just for commercial use. However, it is still not highly competitive and has some good room for improvement. The idea then and now is to maximize it in communication, transportation, etc. as much as possible. In a good way, solar energy is serving as a good cost-effective option in domestic use and for limited scale commercial use as well.
The solar energy was in use in one way or the other in ancient times. It continued to evolve over the centuries where the photovoltaic effect and then the solar energy cell era of 1800 – 1900 got marked as the major milestones in the evolution of solar energy. The decade of 2000 – 2010 was the one when solar energy usage became much common and we were offered the domestic solar panel solution as well.
Today, the use of solar energy has become advanced and these days we can convert solar energy into other forms of energy to make sure we can utilize the maximum potential of this sustainable energy resource.
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