In 1839, Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered that certain materials produced small amounts of electric current when exposed to light.
William Grylls Adams, who, with his student, Richard Evans Day, discovered in 1876 that a solid material – selenium – produced electricity when exposed to light. Selenium photovoltaic cells were converting light to electricity at 1 to 2 percent efficiency. Photovoltaic, or PV for short, is the word that describes converting sunlight into electricity: photo, meaning pertaining to light, and voltaic meaning producing voltage. It took, more than 100 years, however, for the concept of electricity from sunlight to become more than just an experiment.
In 1954, D.M. Chapin, C.S. Fuller and G.L. Pearson, of Bell Laboratory, patented a way of making electricity directly from sunlight using silicon-based solar cells.
The next year, Hoffman Electronics-Semiconductor Division announced the first commercially available photovoltaic product. Each solar cell was capable of producing 14 milliwatts and were priced at U$25 each – this equates to US$1,785 per watt (in 1955 dollars).
The cost of panels for a 3kW system would therefore have been US$5,355,000!
Solar power has come a long way since 1955 and you don’t need to be a millionaire to afford a top quality solar power system – contact us today for an obligation free quote.