The History of Solar Energy: From Ancient Civilizations to Modern Day
The Roots of Solar Energy Utilization
Solar energy has been utilized by ancient civilizations for various purposes such as warmth, food and crop preparation, and agriculture. The knowledge of oil being a non-renewable resource has been around since the 1800s, but it was only after the 70s energy crisis that people truly began to understand the consequences of relying too much on an already depleting energy resource.
Early Discoveries and Breakthroughs in Solar Energy
In the 1830s, Edmund Becquerel made public his studies on how solar light could be harnessed into usable energy. However, his ideas were not explored further for practical use. Augusted Mouchout, commissioned by the French Monarch in the 1860s, looked to the sky for inspiration and made several impressive solar-powered contraptions, including a motor that runs on solar energy, a steam engine that uses the sun’s light, and an ice maker that fully relies on solar power.
William Adams in the 1870s utilized mirrors to channel the power of the sun to make a steam engine run. His power tower design concept is still in use today. Charles Fritz in the early 1880s focused on turning sunlight into electricity, which he later accomplished.
The Modern Era of Solar Energy
One of the most significant developments in modern solar energy occurred in the 1950s. R S Ohl discovered that sunlight produces large numbers of free electrons when it strikes silicon. Gerald Pearson, Calvin Fuller, and Daryl Chaplin were then able to capture those free electrons and convert them into electricity. Today, silicon cells are used to make solar cells and solar panels for harnessing the sun’s energy.
The first practical use of solar cells was in the field of space aeronautics. The first satellite, Vanguard I, launched into space relied on solar cells for power and more satellites followed.
The Future of Solar Energy
Today, more research and studies are being conducted on how best to utilize the sun’s energy. It is estimated that the world’s oil reserves will be depleted in the next 30-50 years, which is why the search for alternative sources of energy continues. The sun is expected to die out in a few thousand years, but man can have all the sun’s energy until that day.
The current challenge in the field of solar energy is to create a more efficient and cost-effective way of producing solar power. The costs of photo cells are still not accessible to most ordinary consumers, and the focus in the science and technology community is to provide a cheap alternative source of energy.
My personal experience in the field of solar energy has shown me that although the technology has come a long way, there is still much room for improvement. The key is to continue conducting research and finding ways to make solar energy more accessible to the masses.