Blog & FAQs

The Evolution of Solar Power

Solar power is the most abundant energy source on the planet. It harnesses the energy of the sun, a constant presence in our lives. It’s clean, renewable and fruitful. But how did solar power become the way it is today? What does this mean for the future of solar power?

Solar Power History

The history of solar power spans thousands of years. The first known use of solar energy was in Ancient Egypt where it was used to heat water for bathing and cooking. 

Today, solar power still plays an important role; it has become one of the most popular ways to counter climate change as well as providing clean and renewable energy for homes and businesses worldwide.

To understand how we arrived at this point today, let us take a look at some key points from history that have led us here:

  • 1873 – Willoughby Smith discovered that selenium had the potential to be photoconductive.
  • 1876 – William Grylls Adams and Richard Evans Day created electricity when they exposed selenium to sunlight.
  • 1883 – Charles Fritts produced solar cells from selenium wafers; he is credited with being the inventor of solar power. 
  • 1891 – Clarence Kemp patented the first solar powered water heater.
  • 1954 – Solar power in the United States was introduced through Bell Labs, who created the first solar cell that could convert enough sunlight into energy to power everyday electrical equipment. 

Over time, these solar energy systems gained popularity among scientists and inventors. In fact, NASA was an early adopter of solar power for various space missions.

The NASA Connection

The first agency to use solar panels in space was in fact NASA. NASA launched Vanguard I in 1958 as the first artificial satellite powered by solar energy. The first spacecraft with this type of power supply was Skylab, which orbited Earth from 1973 to 1974. The station had two solar panels that provided electrical power for the space station as it passed through the dark side of the planet. There are several other instances of solar energy use in space:

  • NASA's Apollo 11 mission placed an instrument used to measure seismic activity on the moon. This instrument was powered by solar energy.  
  • The Voyager space probe (launched in 1977) also had a small amount of solar paneling onboard the equipment so that it could continue transmitting data after the nuclear battery died off within hours of launch.
  • The International Space Station (ISS) is powered by solar energy with a battery backup when the station is not close enough to the sun. 

Many satellites and space stations are still equipped with solar panels today. However, any spacecraft that is traveling further from the sun is equipped with more efficient lithium-ion batteries as their primary power source. 

Solar Power Efficiency

Since the beginning of solar energy development, various types of solar panels have been developed that absorb different wavelengths of light. This technology is constantly changing and becoming more efficient. 

While the history of solar power is certainly not over, there are many exciting developments to look forward to for solar energy. One of the most exciting possibilities is that solar panels could be used more heavily in space travel once again. With NASA planning missions to Mars and beyond, it’s only natural that they would turn to renewable sources of energy like solar power. Solar power still has strides to make in the name of efficiency, but it is quickly becoming a competitor for the primary source for electricity. 

When it comes to energy production and consumption, the sun is just getting started.

Join our newsletter!

Sign up for discounts and get up to date information regarding the solar industry.

Other blog posts

September 29, 2022

Five Benefits of Installing a Home Car Charger

Congratulations! You’ve jumped onto the Electric Car train, and you’re ready to get started. The problem is finding a place to “charge up.” Below are five reasons to install a Level 2 charging station at your home or property.

September 16, 2022

The Cost (And Savings) Of Installing A Home Electric Vehicle Car Charger

At-home charging stations are fairly easy to install, an investment in your quality of life, and a way to save yourself a decent amount of money in the long term.

August 30, 2022

Cost of Solar Power vs. Standard Electric

If you are wondering what the cost of solar power vs standard electric is, then this blog post will answer your questions and show you how much money you can save by going green.

Find more blog post
Button arrow