How Solar Energy Has Progressed in the 21st Century

Often people when people hear of solar power, they think of something very new age or even futuristic. However, the fact of the matter is that solar energy, as we know it, has been around for nearly two decades. While the first solar cell wasn’t created until 1888, the initial discovery of photovoltaic energy was much earlier in the nineteenth century.


Jumping forward to modern day, solar power as an energy source has developed and progressed in many ways and in recent years the progress has been huge. However, the core principles and technology hasn’t changed very much at all since the first solar cell was designed and created well over 100 years ago.

Keep reading to find out more about the changes and advancements in solar energy throughout the 21st century and what lies ahead for this ever-popular renewable source of energy.

The Beginning Of Solar Energy Development

Nowadays, news of renewable energies and developments appear in the media and in publications around the world more frequently than ever before. You might read about the advantages of Spanish wind farms, learn how Sydney solar power providers are making solar power more affordable or watch as international governments gather to discuss the future energy needs of our planet. But how did we get to this point?

Throughout the 20th century, solar power was promoted and employed in a number of different ways including in the space race and through installations of solar panels at the White House. This century also saw breakthroughs such as the first solar power contact with the electricity grid and improvements in the efficiency of solar cells. Across the world, we saw the establishment of associations and institutions including the National Renewable Energy Lab in the US, while in Australia, scientists continually set solar power efficiency world records.

Solar Power In The Present Day

The year 2000 saw the invention of a new solar electric system inverter which would revolutionize the industry and see sales of domestic solar power use rise exponentially. The current inverter used on solar power installations uses this same method developed in 2000, which converts Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC) to be able to connect directly to homes and businesses.

In the early 2000’s, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger supported a project called the Solar Roofs Initiative which aimed to install 1 million solar panel installations by 2017. Following in his footsteps, the later President of the US Barack Obama proceeded to add to the previous instalments of solar panels at the White House, continuing to promote the use of solar power. Other world leaders followed suit including the Vatican, who in 2007, announced that they would begin installing solar panels onto various buildings.

Additionally, large corporations like Google also instigated similar projects and around the world solar panel technology reached an all-time high with world records being broken for efficiency and the price per watt decreasing rapidly.

Thanks to huge advancements from Chinese manufacturers, the construction of solar parks around the world has been growing at an incredible speed. And, in recent years we have also seen new industrial printers capable of producing paper-thin solar cells which have decreased the price of solar production even further.

The Future Of Solar Power is Bright

Discoveries from the University of California and the Australian National University as recent as 2016, allowing the use of nano-materials to potentially generate solar energy using thermo-photovoltaic cells only, could potentially eliminate the need for sunlight, allowing solar energy to rely on heat alone. With exciting developments like this and more in the pipeline, who can say where we will be with solar power in 10 or 20 years? Whatever will happen, remains to be seen but one thing is for certain, now is the moment for solar power to shine.

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