The History of Solar Energy

We have never known the world without sun, but we have known the world without solar energy, solar New York. However, the history of solar energy can be traced back to the 7th century BC. To better understand solar energy, it is important to understand the history of it.

The Early History Of Solar Energy

The 7th century BC is when we have the first recorded use of utilizing the sun’s power. This was through the use of crystals or a magnifying glass which were used to start fires. There are no other recorded uses of the sun’s power for any other activities from this time.

The Egyptians, 400 years later, would harness the light of the sun through the use of mirrors. The Egyptians would reflect the light along the mirrors to illuminate corridors and entrances. The designs of these mirrors were simple but highly effective.

The Romans and Greeks were also known to use solar energy for ceremonial and domestic purposes. There were various ceremonies where the sun was used to light torches. These ancient civilizations were not the only ones to use solar power for ceremonial purposes. The Chinese also used reflective objects and mirrors to light fires for religious reasons and this was recorded as being practiced in 20 AD.

Archimedes is said to have used solar power in 212 BC when he came to the aid of the Greek empire to destroy the Roman navy. The Greeks used highly polished shields to set a number of the ships on fire. This story has been debated by historians, but on 1973 the Greek navy did use the techniques described by Archimedes to set fire to a wooden ship.

The Later History Of Solar Energy

While ancient civilizations utilized the power of the sun to start fires and light rooms, it was only later that solar energy as we know it started to form. Horace de Saussure, a Swiss inventor, was the first to create a solar collector in 1767. The design of this innovation was an insulated rectangular box which was covered in glass with 2 smaller boxes inside it. When the device was left in the sun, the bottom of the smaller boxes would reach temperatures of 100 degrees Celsius.

In the 1830’s, Sir John Herschel created a similar hot box while on an expedition to South Africa. Sir Herschel primarily experimented with foods being cooked in the hot box and not on providing any other forms of energy. It was William Bailey who invented the first solar collector which used copper coils in 1908. This insulated box was very similar to the ones that we still use today.

The Photovoltaic Solar Cells

The history of the solar cells we use dates back to 1876 with William Grylls Adams. He, along with a student Richard Day, discovered that selenium produced electricity when it was exposed to light. However, the selenium cells were not efficient but could prove that light could be made without heat and moving parts.