Solar Power–What is Old is Now New Again

June 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Solar Energy

Solar power has been around for centuries now. Even humans from way in the beginning have reaped benefits from the sun, since it helps animals thrive and plants grow. Soon, humans realized that the sun gives warmth. And soon after that, someone realized it could even start fires.

Years after that, smarter humans have developed a way to harness solar power even more exactly.

At the turn of the first millennium, Hero of Alexandria came up with a working steam engine, of which some models made use of solar energy to heat water. In 1767, the Swiss scientist Horace de Saussure invented the very first modern solar collector by using glass boxes, which later became solar ovens. In 1839, Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect, which showed that solar energy could be used to produce electrolyte currents. Modern solar power didn’t truly begin to take off until 1954, though, when Bell Labs scientists produced the very first, truly efficient photovoltaic (PV) cell.

A wide array of impressive devices has continued to come out, with vast improvements in efficiency and much lower costs in manufacturing. Soon enough, the curves will start to cross and solar power will then become a more useful technology compared to how it is viewed today.

In fact, it has already started to happen. Solar power has been prevalent in many homes for decades now, some of which use PV modules to produce electricity, while some use collector systems to for warmth and water heat.

Millions of highway lights and phones make use of tiny solar panels for power. Solar power lawn lamps are used in homes all around the nation for yards without the need for batteries or wires. Other applications, such as electric fences and solar battery chargers also use solar energy as their main source for power.

Solar devices are also commonly used in developing countries for water treatment, whether as basic as pouring water into a jug and letting it sit in the sun for a couple of hours or as a solar still that kills diseases and purifies in the process.

These methods are fairly cheap and only need very basic technology, making them useful for those who cannot afford sophisticated and expensive applications. Many people in the rural parts of the United States of America and developed countries are examples of this.

Solar power has a lot of uses, from coming up with non-polluting electricity to enhancing health, and even coming up with other alternatives for the convenience of vehicle users. With the cost of solar power becoming lower and the cost of coal and oil becoming higher, these applications are being more widely-used today, serving as an advantage for everyone.