Solar Energy

Is the History of Solar growing, stagnating, or declining?

History cannot give us a program for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future.

      Robert Penn Warren

Solar energy has found a dynamic and established role in today’s clean energy economy, with photovoltaics (PV) long history. Human ingenuity towards sun technology brought the concept of solar energy to fruition. With the way the cost of solar has plummeted in the past decade, solar had a completely different meaning than 15 years ago. We are going back centuries to review the origins of solar PV and explore the history of solar energy and silicon solar technology.

In the 7th century BC, humans used the magnifying glass to start fires. Can you imagine living in that period, sitting in your home with small windows for safety and warmth or coolness depending on the time of year? Then the invention of large glass adds warmth to your house, the first of many steps in using the sun for energy. In the 3rd century B.C., the Greeks and Romans harnessed solar power with mirrors to light torches for religious ceremonies. These mirrors became a normalized tool referred to as “burning mirrors.” Chinese civilization documented the use of mirrors for the same purpose later in 20 A.D.
As early as the 1700s, the sun cooked food on long sea voyages. The sun offers a fantastic source of power, putting out 3.8 X 10 26th power watts. That means with the combination of sun and solar, you can power anything. The grid needs to be balanced, and that is part of the risk of renewables. One of the energy equalizers is storage. As technology progresses and prices go down, more solar+storage projects get installed. The future I see is one with bridges that keep bringing us closer to a 100% renewable U.S. and World.

Some critical events in solar’s history are as follows:

1905 Einstien published a paper on the photoelectric effect.

1954 The first solar cell was created at Bell Labs.

1958 Solar energy powers satellites in space.

1977 President Carter signs a bill creating the Department of Energy.

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed on the White House during his term as President. However, in 1981, President Ronald Reagan ordered the White House solar panels to be removed. In 2010, President Barack Obama requested that solar panels and a solar water heater installed on the White House. The President had both installed during his first term. 1997 DOE Million Solar Roof Initiative spends 16 Billion through 2005, contributing to the installation of 377,000 solar systems

In 2005, I entered the industry through the residential installation market. An installed system was about $10 a watt, while modules fluctuated between 275 to 290 W at $4 per watt. This year, ITC expanded and increased tax deductions.

Robert’s signing ceremony for six megawatts AC in Long Island, NY

Prices for solar panels have dropped substantially over the past few decades, leading to a surge in consumer demand that has produced more than one million U.S. installations as of early 2016. In 1956, solar panels cost roughly $300 per watt. By 1975, that figure had dropped to just over $100 a watt. Today, a recently produced 430W-450W solar panel sold to the US market can cost as little as $0.33 to $0.35 a watt. Consider this: since the year 1980, solar panel prices have dropped by at least 10 percent every single year. The plummeting cost of solar is mainly responsible for the growing popularity of solar and the legitimacy of PV as a reliable energy source in today’s world.

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Please go to the below link if you are interested in reading my article in the North American Clean Energy periodical about “Raising Capital While Cutting Loss.”:


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Last week’s question, “The U.S. will reach our climate goals for 2030?” “52% of the respondents said, Yes.” 

Thank you for your responses. Each week we will give you the results from the previous week’s question. If you have a minute please respond to the below question.


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Have questions please contact Karlita or Robert, and we will be happy to assist you? 

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