Who Invented Solar Power?

Solar power was first discovered by French physicist Edmond Becquerel in 1839 at the young age of 19. At the time, Becquerel was experimenting in his father's lab when he observed the photovoltaic effect, a process that generates electricity when exposed to sunlight. His process involved placing two plates of either gold or platinum in a conducting solution and then exposing them to solar radiation. This discovery was so significant that the photovoltaic effect is now often referred to as the Becquerel effect.

Even though Becquerel was the first scientist who created solar power, he was far from the last. It wasn't long after this discovery that fellow scientists around the globe started expanding on Becquerel's work. In the 1860s, a French mathematician by the name of Augustin Mouchot registered several patents pertaining to solar-powered engines.

Then, in 1883, a New York-based inventor named Charles Fritts developed the very first solar cell. He accomplished this by coating the mineral selenium in a layer of gold. The cell produced an energy conversion rate of 1% to 2%, which was quite impressive at the time. Today's cells can achieve a conversion rate of 15% to 20%.

As the years and then decades progressed, more and more scientists continued to make advancements in the field of solar energy. In 1888, American inventor Edward Weston and Russian scientist Aleksandr Stoletov both created their own versions of the solar cell. In 1897, American inventor Harry Reagan filed a patent for solar-powered thermo batteries. In 1913, American physicist William Coblentz was granted a patent for a thermal generator.

On and on it went with each decade bringing about leaps in solar power until we finally made it to where we are today. And all of this was because a teenage boy in France was running experiments in his father's laboratory.