Who Invented Solar Energy / A Collaborative Effort
Many seem to think that the concept of utilizing solar energy is a modern development. In truth, solar energy has a long history and the use of solar power as we know it today cannot be credited to one inventor but to numerous great minds.
Who Invented Solar Energy / A Look at the Bright Minds Behind Solar Energy
The history of solar energy begins with Leonardo da Vinci whose sketches dating back to the 15th century show that he had been designing techniques for harnessing solar energy. It seems not much had developed from then since other proof of solar power studies dated centuries later, during the 1700s.
It was at this time when a Swiss scientist named Horace de Saussure began studying the potential of solar energy. In 1767, he was recognized for developing a solar energy collector (also known as a “hot box”), a first in the entire world.
During the late 1830s, a French physicist named Edmond Becquerel published his own studies on how light can be converted into energy. His findings, though, were not applied into actual technologies. It was also during this time when a British astronomer named John Herschel used a hot box, seemingly based on Horace de Saussure’s invention, to cook food when he went on an expedition to South Africa.
Who Invented Solar Energy / Mouchout Makes His Mark
It wasn’t until the 1860s when solar energy began to be taken seriously through the efforts of a French mathematician named Auguste Mouchout. Mouchout gained funds from the French monarch for his work. Through that funding, he was able to develop the very first motor that runs on solar energy. It was also he who invented the first solar-powered steam engine that he also used to make ice by connecting it to a refrigeration device.
Who Invented Solar Energy / And the Collaboration Continues
The pace of developments accelerated from there and, during the 1870s, William Adams, a British official based in India, used mirrors to harness energy from the sun in order to power a steam engine. The design of his invention is still being used today.
By 1883, the first solar cell was invented by Charles Fritz who became recognized as the first person to turn solar energy to electricity. Later on, a French engineer named Charles Tellier showed acceptance of utilizing solar energy by installing a solar-powered hot water system in his home.
Around 1904, American Henry Willsie was recognized as the first person to store energy generated during the day so that it could be used at night. Albert Einsten continuously experimented with photovoltaics and solar energy for which he gained a Nobel Prize in 1921. By the 1950s, scientists at Bell Laboratories accidentally discovered the potential of silicon for use in solar technology.
Great minds from centuries ago already recognized the need to use renewable resources yet; we still use technologies that run on non-renewable resources. Today, even more great minds are contributing to the history of solar energy and, hopefully some time soon, their inventions become widely accepted for the assurance of environmental sustainability.
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