Solar energy dates all the way back to 1839 in the country of France. Edmond Becquerel was the one who first discovered what we call the photovoltaic effect. This is classified as the creation of an electric current/voltage when exposed to a light source. The discoveries made by Becquerel would later influence other inventors, resulting in the invention of devices to capture and retain solar energy.
Over 40 years later, the first solar cell was invented by Charles Fritts in the United States. To do so, Fritts utilized the elements of selenium and gold in order to produce a constant flow of energy. With a 1 or 2% conversion rate, these cells fail to compare modern day cells that achieve conversions of around 15 – 20%. That’s a lot better rate of conversion!
In 1888, two patents for solar energy were given to Edward Weston. His goal was to create a device that could harness the energy of the sun into mechanical and electric energy. Over the next few decades, the technology surrounding solar power generation advanced quickly. Soon after – solar cells became more efficient, thermal generators were introduced, and solar power became more like what we recognize today.