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The History Of Solar Energy Panels

Solar energy is one of the most popular forms of alternative energy, harnessing radiation from the sun and converting it into electricity. By reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and using alternative energy sources such as solar power, we can massively reduce our carbon footprint and our contribution to climate change! More and more homes, offices and buildings are installing solar panels, and for good reason!

 

Our blog dives into the history of the humble solar panel, where they came from and how they can help your home today. To find out more about solar energy, keep on reading!


mother and young son exploring solar panels in a field

What Are Solar Energy Panels?

Solar energy panels, also known as photovoltaics (PV) are panels that capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity that we can use in our homes, you may have seen them on homes or buildings before. Despite what many people think, solar panels don’t need direct sunlight to work, and they will work even on cloudy days. However, with more sunlight, more electricity can be generated.

 

Solar energy systems are being installed on homes, other buildings, and we even have solar farms now, maximising our use of the sun’s radiation. Many solar energy systems can be fitted with an additional solar battery for storage, allowing you to store your solar energy for a later date! Solar energy allows us to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels for energy and in turn, reducing the amount of harmful pollution that is created.

 

Solar panels are an effective investment, helping homes and businesses everywhere! But, where did they come from? Read below to find a thorough history of solar panels and how they became so prevalent in our lives.


A History Of Solar Energy

Solar energy can be dated as far back as the 1800s, where the very first developments began. Our history of solar energy looks at the significant developments and promising growth that took place in order for us to reap the benefits of alternative energy today.


The 1800s

In 1839, French scientist Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect at just 19 years of age. He realised that when electrons were in an excited state, they could move freely through a material, creating a current as a result. However, this wasn’t widely recognised until Einstein wrote a paper about the power of solar, receiving a nobel prize for his work eventually in 1992.

 

Following this, in 1883 the first solar panel was created by Charles Fritts. He coated a thin layer of selenium with an extremely thin layer of gold, resulting in the first solar panel! This solar panel only had an energy efficiency of about 1%, but it led to significant momentum in the development of solar panels!


Solar Power In The 1900s

As we moved into the 1900s, the development of solar panels was growing. Bell laboratory scientists were focusing on PV developments, using silicon to produce solar cells, producing an improved efficiency of 4%. This may seem like a low percentage in comparison to solar panels today, but most modern solar panels have an efficiency of 11-20%, with some going up to 50%. 

 

This breakthrough led to the US government funding solar technology even more, and by the mid 1950s, the first solar powered phone call was made, showcasing the developments solar energy was making. Following this, the first solar powered radio was introduced in 1956, able to function in the day and at night.

 

A few years later, in the US, solar PV cells were experimented with on satellites. Since then, satellites have been powered by solar energy solutions! In 1960, in London, the first solar powered car was introduced, with a solar panel roof and a 72 volt battery. It was clear that solar power was becoming a viable energy source. Developments continued throughout the 1900s, with solar farms being built and more global recognition for this alternative energy source.


The 2000s: Commercial Solar Energy

During the 2000s, solar energy became more commercial and easily accessible to everyone. The renewable energy sector was growing as a whole, with groundbreaking advancements and more applications for solar energy.

 

Mandatory targets for renewable energy were set across the EU, encouraging the use of alternative sources. In 2018, there were over 1 million solar PV installations, as they became way more accessible for homes and businesses. In 2018, the UK generated 3.9% of all its electricity through solar power.

 

In 2019, we also saw an off-shore, floating solar farm in the Dutch North Sea, and it was becoming cheaper to build new solar plants than operate existing coal plants, increasing our development and use of solar power.


Solar Power Today

Skip ahead to the present day, solar power is being used vastly across the UK. From homes and buildings to cars and electric vehicles, we are utilising solar power and other renewable energy sources for various avenues of our daily lives.

 

Solar power isn’t the only renewable source being used however. Other green energy sources such as wind power, geo-thermal power, hydro-electricity and other alternative energy have been helping homes and businesses around the world to reduce their carbon footprint.


The Future Of Solar Panels

As far as the future of solar energy, we can definitely look ahead for advancements. Solar panels are likely to become more efficient over time, meaning these panels will be able to generate more electricity, making your investment even more worthwhile. Alongside this, solar panels may start to be made from more sustainable materials that can reduce the cost of overall solar energy systems. To learn more about solar energy, and how solar power could benefit your home, check out our website.


How Can Solar Solutions Help Me?

Solar power benefits us in a range of ways, which is why more and more people are deciding to invest in alternative energy sources. Read below to discover just a few of the ways solar power can benefit your home:

 

●     Helping The Environment - It goes without saying that alternative energy sources are beneficial for the environment, and by choosing alternative power such as solar, you can reduce your carbon footprint massively.

 

●     Reducing Bills - By investing in solar panels, you can reduce the price of your bills, helping you save a decent amount of money every month. By generating your own electricity through solar power, you can reduce the amount of power you are using from the national grid, bringing your gas and electricity bills down a significant amount!

 

●     Less Reliance On The National Grid - Alongside less expensive bills, reducing your reliance on the national grid can benefit you in other circumstances. During power cuts or other grid related issues, you will have your own source of electricity to power your home!

 

●     Storage Capabilities - If you decide to invest in solar panels, you may also opt for a solar battery! These solar solutions are a great addition to your solar energy system, allowing you to store up all that solar power for a rainy day! Or any kind of emergency situation when you might need it. Many people store solar power from the summer to power their homes in the winter, when energy prices are higher.

 

●     Selling Energy Back - If you’re using a solar battery to store your residual energy, some green energy companies and sustainable providers will buy this energy back from you, giving you an opportunity to make money from your solar power. This is another option to ensure your solar energy isn’t going to waste.


Sunflower Energy Solutions: Solar Panel Solutions, Alternative Energy & More

If you’re looking for reliable solar solutions, look no further! Here at Sunflower Energy Solutions, we supply and install solar panels that are effective all year round. Our specialists are committed to providing all of our clients with professional and quality solar solutions and more. To find out more about our other services, head to our website! Or, feel free to get in touch with us today! Our team will be happy to help you find exactly what you’re looking for!

 

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