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Solar Energy the Big Picture (free ebook)

Solar Energy the Big Picture

A Brief History of Solar Energy

It all started during the space race. Russia and the United States were sending satellites into the atmosphere. These satellites had big arrays of solar panels to power them. So early on lots of money was invested into making solar panels durable and reliable. After all, replacing them was very difficult.

Once the space race ended, investment in solar technologies slowed down. Solar panels occupied an uncomfortable position. They were too expensive for the mainstream marketplace, and there wasn’t a pressing need to make them more affordable.

Then global warming and climate change began to emerge. The oil crisis of the 1970’s, the war in the Middle East, pollution, acid rain, El Nino, the Amazon rainforests, melting glaciers, the hole in the ozone and endangered species.

Falling Solar Prices

Firstly, Solar Panels have become more efficient over time. Secondly, as solar panels have became more efficient the energy they produced costs less.

Here are some graphs to show how solar panel prices have changed over the last few years.

The graph above left shows solar efficiency results in factory conditions. This is a measure of the % sunlight converted to electricity.

The graph above right shows how the cost of solar energy (in cents per kWh) has steadily fallen since 1980.

The Environment, Global Warming and Climate Change 

One of the great challenges of our time.If you think back, people in the 1920’s had as their backdrop World War I and the beginning of World War II. In the 1950’s the challenge was the Great Depression and the later emergence of nuclear weapons worldwide.

The destruction of the Amazon rainforest became a concern in the 1980’s. This has grown to a worldwide awareness of global ecology. Global warming is in the backs of our minds, even if few people are actively involved in studying or attempting to counter it.

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