Timeline on Solar Energy

By marvinp
  • Jan 1, 1200


    Ancestors of Pueblo people called Anasazi in North America live in south-facing
    cliff dwellings that capture the winter sun.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1200 to

    Solar Energy

  • 1767

    Swiss scientist Horace de Saussure was credited with building the world’s first
    solar collector, later used by Sir John Herschel to cook food during his South Africa
    expedition in the 1830s. See the Solar Cooking Archive for more information on
    http://solarcooking.org/saussure.htm Sassure and His Hot Boxes of the 1700s.
  • 1816

    On September 27, 1816, Robert Stirling applied for a patent for his economiser
    at the Chancery in Edinburgh, Scotland. By trade, Robert Stirling was actually
    a minister in the Church of Scotland and he continued to give services until
    he was eighty-six years old! But, in his spare time, he built heat engines in his
    home workshop. Lord Kelvin used one of the working models during some of
    his university classes. This engine was later used in the dish/Stirling system, a
    solar thermal electric techn
  • 1839

    French scientist Edmond Becquerel discovers the photovoltaic effect while
    experimenting with an electrolytic cell made up of two metal electrodes placed
    in an electricity-conducting solution—electricity-generation increased when
    exposed to light.
  • 1860s

    French mathematician August Mouchet proposed an idea for solar-powered steam
    engines. In the following two decades, he and his assistant, Abel Pifre, constructed
    the first solar powered engines and used them for a variety of applications. These
    engines became the predecessors of modern parabolic dish collectors.
  • 1876

    1876 William Grylls Adams and Richard Evans Day discover that selenium
    produces electricity when exposed to light. Although selenium solar cells failed
    to convert enough sunlight to power electrical equipment, they proved that a
    solid material could change light into electricity without heat or moving parts.
  • 1880

    Samuel P. Langley, invents the bolometer, which is used to measure light from
    the faintest stars and the sun’s heat rays. It consists of a fine wire connected
    to an electric circuit. When radiation falls on the wire, it becomes very slightly
    warmer. This increases the electrical resistance of the wire.
  • 1883

    Charles Fritts, an American inventor, described the first solar cells made from
    selenium wafers.
  • 1908

    1908 William J. Bailley of the Carnegie Steel Company invents a solar collector
    with copper coils and an insulated box—roughly, it’s present design.
  • 1947

    1947 Passive solar buildings in the United States were in such demand, as a
    result of scarce energy during the prolonged W.W.II, that Libbey-Owens-Ford
    Glass Company published a book entitled Your Solar House, which profiled
    forty-nine of the nation’s greatest solar architects.
  • 1950

    Architect Frank Bridgers designed the world’s first commercial office building
    using solar water heating and passive design. This solar system has been
    continuously operating since that time and the Bridgers-Paxton Building, is
    now in the National Historic Register as the world’s first solar heated office
  • 1954

    1954 Photovoltaic technology is born in the United States when Daryl Chapin,
    Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson develop the silicon photovoltaic (PV) cell at
    Bell Labs—the first solar cell capable of converting enough of the sun’s energy
    into power to run everyday electrical equipment. Bell Telephone Laboratories
    produced a silicon solar cell with 4% efficiency and later achieved 11%
  • 1973

    The University of Delaware builds “Solar One,” one of the world’s first photovoltaic
    (PV) powered residences. The system is a PV/thermal hybrid. The
    roof-integrated arrays fed surplus power through a special meter to the utility
    during the day and purchased power from the utility at night. In addition to
    electricity, the arrays acted as flat-plate thermal collectors, with fans blowing
    the warm air from over the array to phase-change heat-storage bins.
  • 1988

    Dr. Alvin Marks receives patents for two solar power technologies he
    developed: Lepcon and Lumeloid. Lepcon consists of glass panels covered with
    a vast array of millions of aluminum or copper strips, each less than a micron or
    thousandth of a millimeter wide. As sunlight hits the metal strips, the energy in
    the light is transferred to electrons in the metal, which escape at one end in the
    form of electricity. Lumeloid uses a similar approach but substitutes cheaper,
    film-like sheets of plastic
  • 1999

    Spectrolab, Inc. and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory develop a
    photovoltaic solar cell that converts 32.3 percent of the sunlight that hits it into
    electricity. The high conversion efficiency was achieved by combining three
    layers of photovoltaic materials into a single solar cell. The cell performed most
    efficiently when it received sunlight concentrated to 50 times normal. To use
    such cells in practical applications, the cell is mounted in a device that uses lenses
    or mirrors to conce
  • 2002

    NASA successfully conducts two tests of a solar-powered, remote-controlled
    aircraft called Pathfinder Plus. In the first test in July, researchers
    demonstrated the aircraft’s use as a high-altitude platform for telecommunications
    technologies. Then, in September, a test demonstrated
    its use as an aerial imaging system for coffee growers.