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A Brief History of PV (Solar Cells)

Converting the Sun's energy into electricity can be done in several ways, but one of the most common ways is by using photovoltaic (PV) cells (also called solar cells) to do so.  Almost all residential solar panels that convert light into electricity use the PV cells to do so.  Where did PV cells come from?  Here is a brief history about their development:

1905- Albert Einstein discovered how exactly light caused what was then called the photoelectric effect-essentially, photovoltaics.

1954- Bell Labs announces invention of the first modern silicon solar cells, with energy conversion efficiency of about 6 percent.

1960 – Hoffman Electronics creates a 14%-efficient solar cell.

1973 – Solar cells power Skylab, the first U.S. space station.

1977 – Engineer and entrepreneur Bill Yerkes sells startup Solar Technology International to Atlantic Richfield Co., forming ARCO Solar.

1979 – In Camarillo, Calif., ARCO Solar dedicates world’s largest PV factory to making silicon crystal ingots, wafers, photovoltaic cells and modules.

1985 – Australia’s University of New South Wales creates silicon cells with 20% efficiency in laboratory. 1990 – Siemens acquires ARCO Solar, forming Siemens Solar.

1996 – Siemens Solar celebrates 100 MW of installed power from modules made in Camarillo.

1999 – Germany requires utilities to pay “feed-in tariffs” at fixed premium rates to owners of solar systems for power contributed into grid.

How Solar Works:
Solar systems are made up of several photosensitive components that work together to convert light--but not heat--into electricity. This electricity can be connected to your home or business's basic electrical infrastructure.

Activating the Solar Power System:
Photovoltaic (PV) cells are the main components of a solar power system--they transform the sun's energy into electricity. A PV cell is a slice of a silicon crystal, called a wafer, which has been engineered to give it the necessary electrical properties for the photovoltaic effect; as light hits a PV cell, energy from the absorbed light knocks electrons loose. The free floating electron current and the cell's voltage create the power that solar cells produce.

Powering Homes with Solar Power Systems:
The Direct Current (DC) from a PV module flows through a copper wire to the inverter. Inverters transform the DC produced by the solar power system into Alternating Current (AC) electricity. AC electricity is the world's standard form of electricity, most appliances operate on it. The solar generated AC power coming out of the inverter feeds into the electrical infrastructure of a home or business. Energy from the sun is limitless, clean, and inexpensive. Electricity from your utility is pricey and bad for the environment.

Make the choice to switch to solar power system and start saving today!


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