Solar energy is not new. Its use spans back to as early as the 7th century B.C. The concentration of the sun’s rays using a magnifying glass is one of the first recorded instances of “solar energy.” Furthermore, solar energy technology has consistently advanced throughout the years until now. We have solar buildings, panels, cars, and more. The future of solar energy in San Antonio is untapped, and it’s time you took advantage of the savings and environmental benefits of making the switch to solar power.

In this post, we will share a brief history of solar energy. Are you ready to discuss a solar power system for your home? Contact Apex Home Energy Savings in San Antonio. Otherwise, continue reading this post for a fun history lesson.

Solar Energy Milestones Throughout History

In the milestone timeline below, we will share moments from the 7th Century B.C. all the way up to the early 2000s. We’ll also discuss where we see the future of Solar power heading for the residents of San Antonio. Here is a brief history of solar energy:

7th Century B.C.E to 1200 C.E.

  • 7th Century B.C.E. – A magnifying glass was used to focus the rays of the sun to burn an ant.
  • 3rd Century B.C.E. – Romans and Greeks use mirrors to light torches for religious ceremonies.
  • 2nd Century B.C.E. – Archimedes is said to have used the reflective surfaces of bronze shields to set wooden ships aflame. This occurred during the Roman Empire’s besieging of Syracuse around 212 B.C.E.
  • 20 C.E. – The Chinese were recorded as using reflective surfaces like mirrors to light torches on fire for religious reasons. 
    4th Century C.E. – Roman bathhouses used large windows that faced the south to allow warmth in without contact from direct sunlight.
  • 6th Century C.E. – Justinian Code implemented “sun rights” due to the abundance of sunrooms on public buildings to ensure individual access to the sunlight.
  • 1200 C.E. – Pueblo ancestors have been reported as living in south-facing cliff dwellings, harnessing the sun for warmth and sight.

18th and 19th Century C.E.

  • 1767 – Horace de Saussure, a Swiss scientist, is credited with constructing the first solar collector. Sir John Herschel later used Saussure’s solar collector to cook food while on a South Africa expedition.
  • 1816 – Robert Stirling submitted a patent for a machine using solar thermal electric technology to produce power. Lord Kelvin later used Stirling’s machine in other uses and technological advancements.
  • 1839 – Edmond Becquerel, a French scientist, discovers the photovoltaic effect while experimenting with an electricity-conducting solution. The two metal electrodes he used produced more energy when exposed to sunlight, leading to this discovery.
  • 1860s – August Mouchet and his assistant proposed an idea for solar-powered engines. They worked for the next two decades to make the idea a reality, and they used the solar-powered steam engines in a variety of applications.
  • 1891 – Clarence Kemp, a Baltimore inventor, was the first to patent commercial solar-powered water heater.

20th Century C.E.

  • 1905 – Albert Einstein published a paper on the photoelectric effect alongside his paper on the theory of relativity.
  • 1908 – The Carnegie Steel Company invented a solar collector out of copper coils and an insulated box. The lead on this invention, William J. Bailley, worked tirelessly to make it a success.
  • 1921 – Albert Einstein wins Nobel Peace Prize for his paper on photoelectric effect.
  • 1954 – Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson develop the first silicon photovoltaic (PV) cell. Bell Labs gives birth to Photovoltaic Technology in the United States. The lab produced a cell, initially, that had four percent efficient, and they later produced a cell that achieved 11 percent efficiency.
  • The 1950s – The first commercial office building is designed to use passive design and solar water heating. Frank Bridgers, an architect, is credited with the design and vision of this building. The Bridgers-Paxton building has been operating the solar system since it’s debut.
  • 1999 – The National Renewable Energy Lab and Spectrolab, Inc developed the highest converting photovoltaic cell at 32.3 percent. Lenses of mirrors were used to concentrate sunlight onto the three layers of cells, which produced high-efficiency percentages. This technology is one of the many that helped substantiate the use of solar power throughout the country.

21st Century C.E.

  • 2000 – In Perrysburg, Ohio, the largest photovoltaic manufacturing plant starts production of enough solar panels to produce an estimated 100 megawatts of power.
  • 2005 – The Energy Policy Act of 2005 is signed into legislation, which temporarily raised the investment tax credit (ITC) to 30 percent for commercial and reinstated the ITC for residential.
  • 2011 – There were an estimated 345 solar-related incentives and init
  • 2015 – The federal government enacts a budget compromise to extend the ITC step-down to 2021
  • 2016 – Cadmium telluride is shown to convert up to 22 percent of solar energy into electricity. This material represents about five percent of the global solar market.

Find Solar Energy Installers in San Antonio

At Apex Home Energy Savings, we’re dedicated to the education of our community and the satisfaction of our solar energy customers. We’ve been in business for decades, and we’re the go-to home energy services company in San Antonio. If you want to learn more, read our blog. Want to make the switch to solar power? Contact Apex today to get started!