Solar energy


Auguste Mouchout created a steam engine that was powered only by solar energy in 1861. This was an exciting event, but the invention was very costly and it could not be reproduced or even maintained so the steam engine was quickly forgotten.

While the solar powered steam engine wasn’t viable in 1861 this did not stop the efforts of many who knew that solar power could be harnessed and used in many different ways. It was during the 1880’s that the first light converting photovoltaic cells were built. These cells were made of selenium and had an efficiency of one to two percent. It was not long after, in 1891, that the first commercial solar water heater was patented.

For the next 50 to 60 years the developments were not as bold, but even Albert Einstein was working on using solar power, he was even granted a Nobel Prize in physics in 1921 for his work on the photoelectric effect. While the years of solar power went by quietly, in the 1950’s the development of solar power was benefited by the production of the Czochralski meter. This was a process that produced pure crystalline silicone and by 1954 Bell Telephone Laboratories had developed a silicon photovoltaic cell that had a four percent efficiency that was later boosted to eleven percent efficiency.

Solar energy sources future

The chances of producing solar power as a more commercially viable source of alternative energy seem brighter now with the positive research results from many scientists around the world.

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