History of Solar Power and Solar Technology
History of Solar Power and Solar Technology
Solar power supply in space: the International Space Station (ISS) Alpha, service module "Zvezda"

The esteem and appreciation of Solar power dates far back. In almost all cultures, from the time of the Egyptians to modern times, the sun has been worshiped and praised. The earliest evidence of Passive Solar Design can be seen in Architecture of the early civilisations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the highly developed ancient cultures of South America. However, the active use of Solar Energy was first acquired in modern times.

Henry Becquerel, a French physicist, discovered the Photoelectric Effect and thus laid the foundations for today’s Solar Cells. At the end of the Nineteenth Century, Charles Fritts constructed so-called vacuum photo cells using vacuum metalized selenium layers which were used as light meters. Solar cells constructed from selenium are not new: they were first manufactured in the 1950’s by the US corporation Bell and had an efficiency of 6 %. In past decades photovoltaic technology has been steadily developed, especially in the area of aerospace technology.

The principle of Solar Heating has long been applied. In the Eighteenth Century the natural scientist Horace-Bénédict de Saussure invented the predecessor to the modern solar heat Collector. Both the low prices of fossil fuels and the wide-spread scepticism concerning Solar Radiation energy in Central Europe up to the 1970’s were reasons for its limited spread. But ever since the first oil crisis, environmentally conscious builders and contractors have used solar heating systems as their standard.

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