Posted on: November 17, 2010

  1. •1839: Nineteen-year-old Edmund Becquerel, a French experimental physicist, discovered the photovoltaic effect while experimenting with an electrolytic cell made up of two metal electrodes.
  2. •1873: Willoughby Smith discovered the photo conductivity of selenium.
  3. •1876: Adams and Day observed the photovoltaic effect in solid selenium.
  4. 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 without moving parts
  5. •1953: Gerald Pearson at Bell Labs, makes first Silicon solar cell
  6. •1953: Daryl Chapin and Calvin Fuller refine concept, first solar cell to power electrical equipment
  7. •Mid 1950s: Efficiency doubles in 18 months But: 300 $/W compared to 50 cents/W for conventional power
  8. •Late 50s: Solar cells used as part of a hybrid power system for Vanguard satellite
  9. •Since the late 1960s Solar cells have been the accepted power source for satellites.
  10. •Early 1970s: Dr Elliot Berman lower quality silicon drops cost from 100 $/W to 20 $/W Allows use of solar power for terrestrial applications, like oil rigs and remote locations away from the grid.
  11. •Late 1970s: US Coastguard powers nearly all of it’s buoys and lighthouses using solar cells (other coast guards follow suit)
  12. •1978: Telecoms Australia install 13 solar powered repeater stations, following with 70 more.
  13. •By 1985 solar power is system of choice for remote communications
  14. •1980s: Rural communities benefit from solar power. 50% of the households in the outlying islands of Tahiti run on solar power
  15. •1980s: Centralised solar power plants are designed. Building integrated PV becomes more common
  16. •1990s – Present: Costs of solar power reduce further.
  17. •Solar power is used for applications like street lighting, powering bus shelters.

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