Sunday, May 2, 2010

The History of Solar Power‏

by Terry Daniels

The generation of power has come a long way since the beginning of mankind. It has evolved and developed until we have reached the age of solar power.

However, solar power has had a long journey in itself. By 1983, the ARCO Solar has dedicated an entire 6-megawatt photovoltaic substation located in mid-California to solar power. The substation encompassed an unmanned, 120-acre field that was filled with solar panels. These solar panels generated enough electricity to power the Pacific Gas and Electric Company's utility grid. This is enough power to provide electricity for 2,000 to 2,500 homes in the area.

The same year the Solar Design Associates designed and constructed a home in the Hudson River Valley. The home was able to power itself through the 4-kilowatt amount of energy its solar panels were able to produce.
By the end of this year the total photovoltaic production throughout the world reached 21.3 megawatts. Solar powered product sales generated over $250 million in revenue.

The following year, 1984, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District approved construction of the first one megawatt photovoltaic electricity generating facility. Compared to 1983, the rest of 1984 was relatively unproductive in solar power advancement. However in 1985 the University of South Wales finally broke the 20% efficiency barrier for silicon solar cells under 1-sun conditions that had been hold back solar power efficiency for years. This was a big discovery that had tremendous impact on the solar power world.

In 1986 the world's largest solar thermal facility was built in Kramer Junction, California. The field not only contained the solar panels, but mirrors that were effectively placed to concentrate as much of the sun's energy as possible onto the panels. This helped the heat transfer fluid to circulate, which then created steam and powered a conventional turbine that generated electricity. At the time, this was top modern equipment and theory.

Later the same year ARCO finished and marketed the G-4000. The G-4000 was the first commercial thin-film power module that was available worldwide. By 1988 Dr. Alvin Marks applied for and was granted patents for two of his solar power technologies. These technologies were referred to as the Lepcon and Lumeloid. The Lepcon was made using glass panels that cover a vast collection of tiny aluminum and copper strips. Each of these strips was less than a micron or thousandth of a millimeter in width. When the sun hit the metal strips, the energy from the sun was transferred to the electrons that are in the metal. Energized, the electrons are then motivated to escape down one end of the metal as electricity. The Lumeloid was very similar, but infinitely cheaper. The Lumeloid used film-like plastic sheets instead of glass and conductive polymers in long plastic units as a replacement for the metal.

Under the presidency of George Bush, it was decided to re-designate the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Energy Research Institute as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This implied that the value and importance of solar power was starting to be realized once again. During the year of 1992, the University of South Florida created a thin-film photovoltaic cell that was made from cadmium telluride and achieve 15.9% efficiency. This was the first time that the 15% barrier had been broken. Later that year a 7.5 kilowatt prototype dish system involving the advanced stretched membrane concentrator had become functional enough to be usable.

In 1993, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company finished the construction of the first grid-supported photovoltaic system. This grid-supported system is located in Kerman, California. The grid-system reached 500-kilowatts in power generation. This project was also thought of as the first 'distributed power' effort.

Solar power has come a long way for the time the idea was first to developed to actual, real life application using modern technology and research. As it continues to develop it can really enhance our lives.

Terry Daniels has been working with alternative energy solutions for the past 10 year. He has written hundreds of articles dealing with solar power and alternative energy solutions. He recommends for sharp solar panels for sale.

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