The Photovoltaic History
What is the future of solar energy?



It is fascinating to review the photovoltaic history.

Early start

Becquerel a young French scientist researched back in 1839 the emerging technology of the time, the electrical cell (predecessor of the modern battery). Accidentally he found out the photovoltaic effect and he constructed the first primitive photovoltaic solar cell. He saw how light is converted into electricity.

Back then technology progressed in a slow motion. In 1883, on the other side of the Atlantic, Charles Fritz, an American inventor built a solar cell. Still on this side of the Atlantic 2 Americans filed patents. Weston in 1888 and Tesla in 1901

Albert Einstein and Photovoltaic

Not only famous for his relativity theories, he also established in 1905 the theory behind the photovoltaic effect. Millikan proved Einstein’s theory in 1916 experimentally and in 1922 Einstein won the Noble prize on his paper.

Commercial Use of Photovoltaic Cells

Bell Laboratories found out in 1954 that silicon is a good photovoltaic material and can be used to produce electrical power . Solar panels were used on satellites and other space vehicles as early as 1958.

Cost reduction efforts brought solar panels to a price bracket that allows to use them economically in off grid remote locations. (Comparing to the cost of running power lines). To these days solar panels provide the proffered off grid power generating technology

Utility size power plants were built through the 1990s continuing into the new century.

This decade is signified by the spreading use of small and medium scale solar power systems for residential applications and for office buildings applications.


As you saw it took 170 years for the photovoltaic effect to evolve from a laboratory observation found by "accident" into a fast growing industry that changes the way we produce electrical power. Solar power history have gone a long way and I predict a bright future for solar energy in years to come

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