Energy Timeline

  • Jan 1, 1300

    Wind Power Plant

    Wind Power Plant
    The first horizontal-axis windmills (like a pinwheel) appeared in Western Europe.
  • Coal

    Coal was discovered near Richmond, Virginia
  • Faraday

    Michael Faraday proved that electricity can be induced (made) by changes in an electromagnetic field. Faraday's experiments about how electric current works led to the understanding of electrical transformers and motors.
  • Natural Gas

    Natural Gas
    In Fredonia, New York, William Hart dug the first successful well that was intended to produce natural gas. Hart dug a 27-foot well to try and bring a larger flow of gas to the surface. Expanding on Hart's work, the Fredonia Gas Light Company was eventually formed, becoming the first American natural gas company.
  • Petroleum

    Oil was first discovered when a homemade rig drilled down 70 feet and came up coated with oil. This rig was near Titusville (in northwestern Pennsylvania) and was owned by "Colonel" Edwin L. Drake.
  • Solar Power Plant

    Solar Power Plant
    Auguste Mouchout (France), a mathematics instructor, was able to convert solar radiation directly into mechanical power.
  • Hydropower Plant

    Hydropower Plant
    Hydropower was beginning to be used for electricity. The first hydroelectric plants were direct current (DC) stations used to power nearby arc and incandescent lighting.
  • Geothermal Plant

    Geothermal Plant
    The first dry steam geothermal power plant was built in Laderello in Tuscany, Italy. The Larderello plant today provides power to about 1 million households.
  • Nuclear Power Plant

    Nuclear Power Plant
    The process of splitting uranium atoms, called nuclear fission, was demonstrated by scientists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman (Germany).
  • Photovoltaic Cell

    Photovoltaic Cell
    Inventors at Bell Labs (Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson) developed a more efficient PV cell (6%) made from silicon. This was the first solar cell capable of generating enough power from the sun to run everyday electrical equipment.