The Pyramid of the Sun. Mexico

History of solar energy

One way or another, solar energy has always been present in the life of the planet is being imprescidible for the development of life. However, the way in which human civilization has invented strategies and taking advantage of new inventions has undergone a long evolution.

The Sun is indispensable for the existence of life on the planet is responsible for the water cycle, the Fotosintesi, etc. Since early civilizations realized this and, as civilizations have evolved, they have also evolved techniques to harness their energy. At first they were techniques for harnessing solar energy passive, later techniques were developed to harness solar thermal energy, and subsequently added photovoltaics.

The Sun and ancient civilizations

Architecture of ancient civilizations dedicated to the Sun

The Sun is an essential element of life development. The most primitive cultures have been taking advantage indirectly without being aware of it (solar radiation is responsible, among other things, the water cycle, which allowed them to drink, or photosynthesis of plants that allowed them to feed).

Later, many more advanced civilizations realized the importance of the sun and developed numerous religions that revolved around the solar star. In many cases, the architecture also kept a close relationship with the sun. Examples of these civilizations would be in Greece, Egypt, the Inca Empire, Mesopotamia, the Aztec Empire, etc.

Passive Solar Energy

In terms of passive solar energy, include the role of the Greeks who were the first to design their homes to harness sunlight, probably from 400 BC

During the Roman Empire it began to use first glass windows to take advantage of the light and trapping solar heat in their homes. Even enacted laws punishing blocking access to the neighbors light.

Romans were also the first to build glass houses or greenhouses to create adequate conditions for the growth of exotic plants or seeds brought to Rome from the far reaches of the empire conditions.

Archimedes invention undir the fleet with solar power

Another form of solar utilization initially developed Archimedes. Archimedes was a physicist, engineer, inventor, astronomer and mathematician Greek, which among other things developed siege machinery. Among his military inventions he developed a system to set fire to the ships of the enemy fleet using mirrors to concentrate solar radiation onto a point. The idea of using mirrors continued to be used in later centuries to the burning of trees and metal casting, among others.

This technique continued to be refined; The great French chemist Lavoisier, I believe in 1792 the & ldquo; & rdquo Solar oven; consisting of two powerful lens that concentrated solar radiation on a focus and allowing reached high temperatures to melt the metal, as in the case of the invention of Lavoisier.

Lavoisier was a French chemist, who in 1792 created his & ldquo; oven Solar & rdquo ;. This oven consisted of two powerful lenses that concentrated solar radiation on a focus and allowed to reach high temperatures that melt metals.

In 1874 the Englishman Charles Wilson and directed design a plant for seawater desalination in the Atacama Desert (Chile) for Salitrera Lastenia Salinas. This solar plant had the capacity to desalinate an average of 22,500 liters of water daily.

History of solar thermal energy. First thermal solar collectors

Horace Benedict de Saussure In 1767 the Swiss scientist Horace Benedict de Saussure (physicist, geologist and mountaineer) heliotermòmetro invented an instrument that could measure the solar radiation. The further development of his invention led to the current instruments to measure solar radiation.

Horace Benedict de Saussure invented the solar collector will have a decisive impact on the development of solar thermal energy of low temperature. From his invention emerge all subsequent developments of solar water heaters are flat plate provided hot water to millions of people worldwide.

In fact, De Saussure was also able to develop the first solar collector. It was & ldquo; & rdquo hot boxes; made of wood and glass in order to catch solar energy. It would be the first solar thermal collector.

More recently, in 1865, French inventor Auguste Mouchout was able to create the first machine capable of converting solar energy into mechanical energy. The mechanism was to generate steam by a solar collector and moving a motor using its pressure. In 1877 Mouchout was commissioned to install several of these turbines in French Algeria. Unfortunately, high costs have prevented his invention commercially.

Several years earlier, in 1515 Leonardo da Vinci began a Mouchout like to produce steam and process heat with the heat of the Sun, but finally the project was unfinished project.

Mouchout was an important figure in French society. Besides creating the first solar steam machine devised other inventions. Mouchout invented a solar cooker which consisted of a black coated glass tank in the sun. On the side of the tank that was not exposed to the sun, stood a cilindricoparabólico mirror to reflect sunlight.

It was even invented a printing press operated by solar energy. An invention that was devised by Abel Pifre.

History of photovoltaics. First photovoltaic cells


In 1838 the French Alexandre Edmond Becquerel first discovered the photovoltaic effect. Becquerel was experimenting with an electrolytic cell with platinum electrodes and realized that when exposed to the sun rising current. It was the beginning of photovoltaic solar energy.

The next step came in 1873 when the English electrical engineer Willoughby Smith discovered the photovoltaic effect in solids. In this case about selenium.

A few years later, in 1877, The Englishman William Grylls Adams Professor of Natural Philosophy at King's College London, along with his student Richard Evans Day, discovered that when selenium exposed to light generated electricity. Thus, they created the first photovoltaic cell of selenium.

Using photovoltaics Satellite

In 1953, Calvin Fuller, Gerald Pearson, and Daryl Chapin, discovered the silicon solar cell. This cell produced enough electricity and was efficient enough to run small electrical devices.

The first commercially available solar cells did not appear until 1956 but the cost was still too high for most people to reach about 1970, when the price of solar cells down about 80%.

The solar cells used in satellites USA i Soviets launched from the late 50s

temporary abandonment of solar energy

The growth of this industry was high until the mid 50's, when the low cost of natural gas and refining coal mining made this energy will be used as the main source for heating. It was considered then, solar energy face and left for industrial purposes.

Coal extraction harmed the development of solar energy

Resurgence of solar energy

The abandonment, for practical purposes, solar power lasted until the 70's. But in those years the increase in the price of oil and gas led to a resurgence in the use of solar to heat homes and water energy as well as electricity generation.

In addition to price, in the case of gas water heaters and household coal, they were dangerous because poor combustion could generate toxic gases, carbon monoxide.

The first solar hot water heater was patented in 1891 by Clarence Kemp.

In this regard, an important development was a highly efficient solar boiler invented by Charles Greeley Abbott in 1936. The solar water heater is made popular by this time in Florida, California and elsewhere in the US.

The Gulf War of 1990 further increased the interest in solar energy as a viable alternative to oil.

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References

Last review: December 16, 2015