When Did Solar Panels Become Commercially Available?
At Kuga Electrical, we take pride in being experts in commercial solar installations and solar technology generally. Part of that expertise comes with knowing about the history of solar panels, and we notice customers are always surprised to hear that this technology has been around a fair deal longer than they expected.
But when did solar panels transition from experimental, futuristic technology to something that’s commonplace on the roofs of Australian businesses? Let’s find out.
The 1950s: The Humble Beginnings
Though humans have been fascinated with the power of the sun for millennia (with evidence of solar energy being used by the ancient Greeks), the commercial journey of solar panels began in the 1950s. During this decade, the first genuine silicone solar cells were introduced. Bell Labs in the United States was the pioneer, with inventors Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson presenting a solar cell with an efficiency of about 6% in 1954. However, these early panels were far from being commercially viable for general use. Their price was steep, and they found their niche primarily in space applications.
The 1970s: Gaining Momentum
Fast forward to the 1970s, and the world witnessed an energy crisis. With oil prices skyrocketing and political tensions high, alternative energy sources became not just desirable but crucial. This period saw a renaissance in solar technology. Governments and private sectors around the globe began investing heavily in renewable energy sources, with solar taking centre stage. Thanks to the US Congress passing the Solar Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Act of 1974, there was a significant incentive for innovation in solar technology. The 70s marked a decade where solar panels became more efficient and, importantly, more affordable. Though still not in every household, they appeared on rooftops, particularly in sun-rich regions.
The 1990s: Entering the Mainstream
It wasn’t until the 1990s that solar panels began their march into the commercial realm. With technological advancements, panels’ efficiency increased, and prices fell significantly. Aided by governmental incentives in many countries, businesses and homeowners started adopting solar panels at an unprecedented rate. By the late 1990s, solar power was no longer a futuristic concept but a present-day reality for many.
The 2000s Onwards: A Global Phenomenon
The new millennium ushered in an era of rapid growth and adoption of solar panels. As concerns about climate change gained momentum and technology advanced, solar panels became more efficient, affordable, and popular. Many countries, Australia included, began offering solar rebates, incentives, and programs to encourage the installation of solar panels. This decade and the ones that followed have seen solar energy transformed from a niche market to a significant player in the global energy scene.
The Journey Continues…
Since their inception in the 1950s, solar panels have taken several decades to become commercially available and viable for most businesses. Yet, with each passing year, advancements continue. Solar panels today are more efficient, affordable, and adaptable than ever, with an exciting future ahead.
If you’re interested in harnessing solar panels for your business, contact Kuga Electrical today.