Science and nature working in harmony
Many people assume that solar power is a relatively new power source, but this is far from the truth. People knew that the sun was a powerful energy as far back as ancient time. The Greeks were the first to use this to their advantage as early as 400BC by building their houses into the side of hills facing the sun. Thus making the most of the heat stored during the hot days to keep their homes warm at night. The Romans took this a step further in using glass to trap this heat within their homes.
The first Solar Collector was built in 1776 by the French/Swiss inventor Horace De Saussare.
Many inventors were fascinated with the Sun and the quest to harness it's power. The most famous being Albert Einstein who In 1921, won the first Nobel Prize for solar power innovation with his paper on the photoelectric effect. This document was published along with his better known 'theory of relativity'.
The efficiency of solar panels has increased many times with the production of Pure Crystalline Silicone cells in 1954. Productivity went from under 4% to around 11%. Today's modern panels are up to 18% efficient.
Solar Power was still considered expensive and while oil prices were low little large scale investment was made in the technology. However things changed dramatically with the 'Oil Embargo' of the 1970s.
The Gulf War made many people ask where the oil they were using came from and at what price. Reliance on unstable oil producing countries made many people very uncomfortable and a desire for alternatives has become widespread. Solar Power is seen as an achievable ethical and safe alternative to oil and fossil fuels.
During the 1990s the World benefited from over one million homes fitting Solar power. 30% of Germany power can come from Solar PV, something that the rest of Europe is looking to emulate.
In 1861 Auguste Mouchout built a steam engine powered entirely by solar. Unfortunately it was considered too expensive and difficult to reproduce and so was abandoned.