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The new world of solar – a brief history

The new world of solar – a brief history

Solar power is one of the latest inventions created to help meet our growing energy needs. It has only been within the last 50 years that we have relied on solar power to supply electricity, but now many countries are beginning to supplement their power generation with solar. With our abundant sunlight it is not surprising that Australia is one of the world leaders in solar power technology adoption.

1839 – Discovery that voltage is produced when certain materials are exposed to sunlight

1883 – First solar cell created (only 1% efficient at converting sunlight to energy)

1905 – Albert Einstein writes a paper on the photoelectric effect, setting the groundwork for the invention of the solar panel

1920 – Solar water heating systems becomes available (using heat rather than electricity)

1954 - First commercially-viable photovoltaic solar cell invented. They were 6% efficient compared to today’s typical solar panel that is 20% efficient

1958 – First solar car built, followed by solar powered satellites launched in 1962

1963 – First solar system created in Japan producing 242 watts. Nowadays most home solar systems produce 5000 watts

1968 – First solar wristwatch available, followed ten years later by the now well-known solar calculator

1973 – Skylab is powered 100% by solar cells

2008 -  Australian homes paid $12 per watt installed (by 2013 that had already dropped to $2.50)

2015 – One in five Australian homes has a solar power installation of some kind

2050 – Canberra to be 100% solar


Filed under: fun facts, solar


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