Who discovered solar energy

Who discovered solar energy

Each year, the Earth receives approximately 174 petawatts of solar radiations. Out of the total amount of radiations obtained, 30 percent is reflected back and the rest of it, that is 3,850,000 exajoules, is absorbed by the atmosphere, land and oceans. It has been estimated that only a fraction of the incoming solar radiations can fulfill all the energy needs of the entire world.

In addition to heating, cooking, water purification, signaling and lighting, solar energy is used for a wide variety of industrial processes and appliances. There are basically two techniques for harnessing solar energy; active solar technique, where photovoltaic cells and thermal panels are used to convert solar radiations into electrical or mechanical energy, and passive solar technique, which aims at maximizing the use of sun light like by orienting a building in such a manner that it remains towards the sun for the longest period of time.
Since times immemorial, people have been using solar energy in one way or another; sometimes to heat their home and water, and at other times, to record time. Hence, it is practically impossible to find out who actually discovered solar energy, but there are innumerable milestones and achievements associated with solar power. Way back in 1860 Auguste Mouchout became first person to patent the design of a motor that ran on solar energy. He used the machine to convert solar energy into mechanical energy, which was used to power the steam engine. The French Monarch funded Mouchout’s research and experiments.

Between 1876 and 1878, William Adams and his student Richard Ray, used mirrors to harness solar energy and used the collected energy to power 2.5 horsepower steam engine. Charles Fritz was the first person who converted the solar energy into electricity. Although the conversion rate of his solar cells was just 1 to 2 percent, but entire process of generating electricity from solar radiations is nothing short of a milestone in the history of solar energy.
Charles Tellier was the first person to build a fully operational solar energy system that he used to heat household water. In 1892, Aubrey Eneas established the first solar energy company called The Solar Motor Company. The company couldn’t sustain for long and was finally shut down. The Sun Power Company of Frank Shuman built the largest solar energy system that was cost-effective too. In 1954, Gerald Pearson, Calvin Fuller and Daryl Chaplin of the Bell laboratories discovered the use of silicon as a semi-conductor that later helped in the development of solar panels.

Although all the techniques for harnessing solar energy are known throughout the world, still lots remains to be done to be able to fulfill the fuel needs of all the people on the Earth through solar energy.

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