A Brief History of Solar Energy in the United States
The thought of giving hundreds of dollars away to the power company every month is a difficult pill for most homeowners to swallow, which is one of the reasons solar energy has gained popularity in the United States in recent years.
Homeowners are more cost-conscious today than they’ve ever been before. Now that homeowners can get started with solar energy without paying a dime, people are lining up to purchase solar for their homes. Best of all, some companies will only let a homeowner sign up for solar if they are guaranteed to save money.
After centuries of research on various energy sources, we now know that the sun is one of the most powerful energy sources in the universe. What’s even better than knowing the sun can be used to power homes, automobiles, and buildings, is knowing that it’s now readily available to the average homeowner.
If you’re interested in learning how solar works and how far we’ve come since its inception, then check out our brief history of solar energy in the United States.
The Early 1950’s and the Discovery of the Solar Cell
Even though solar has only been popular for just over a decade, the discovery of photovoltaic energy (solar cells), dates back to 1876. The discovery was made after William Grylls and his student, Richard Day, figured out that the combination of selenium and light could generate a powerful flow of electricity.
When Werner Von Siemens, an electricity expert in the 1800’s, heard of their discovery, he praised it as one of the most important discoveries in science. They didn’t know it then, but Grylls and Day would pave the way for solar to become a viable energy source in the future.
Though a selenium cell was initially combined with light to create energy, after further research, scientists determined that the selenium cells were not efficient enough to be used as a long-term energy solution. This paved the way for Calvin Fuller, Daryl Chapin, and Gerald Pearson to discover the silicon solar cell in the year 1953.
With this discovery, solar took another giant leap in its evolution. Fuller, Chapin and Parson soon discovered that unlike selenium cells, the silicon solar cell was able to produce enough electricity to power small electrical devices.
At the time, newspapers like The New York Times and other popular media outlets were hailing the discovery of the silicon solar cell as the beginning of a new era in energy. Because everyone knew the sun was a renewable energy source, there would never be a problem generating electricity for residential and commercial buildings for the rest of time.
The Mid 1950’s to the Early 1970’s
In 1956, long after solar cells were initially discovered, solar energy first began being used for commercial purposes. Compared to today, the cost of solar was quite a bit more expensive in 1956, costing over $300 for a 1-watt solar cell.
Interestingly enough, the first solar-powered items available to consumers in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s were toys and radios. While solar was first making its presence in the consumer market, NASA and the Soviet Union’s space program were already busy implementing solar technology into their space satellites.
The price of solar had dropped significantly since the days of its inception. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that a cheaper way to produce solar was discovered by the popular oil company, Exxon. Previously priced at approximately $100, the new research conducted by Exxon led to another drastic drop in price, from $100 per watt to $20 per watt.
1970’s to Today
Shortly after the introduction of solar into the consumer market in the early 1970’s, solar energy was being used on everything, from railroad crossings to microwave towers. It was being utilized as a way to increase telecommunication abilities and even power homes.
Flash forward to today: You can find solar energy wherever you look in the United States.
The future appears bright for solar now that anyone can reasonably afford it as an energy source.
Get Solar for Your Home
The power of solar has spread throughout the United States in the past decade, and it is now readily available to the average homeowner.
If you contact a representative from Blue Raven Solar today you can get a free quote for the installation and get started for $0 down. That’s right—for $0 down you can completely transform the way your home is powered.