Dan Purjes has always had a fascination with solar energy. He once wrote a report that he hoped to get printed as a main story in the New York Times, for instance, and he regularly creates a list of statistics as they relate to the adoption of solar power. He has himself accessed a fund on Wall Street in NYC, with friends Barrons and Mctague, in order to turn solar technology into an asset. He has himself made a final investment into an array in Rockwood. That said, Purjes felt it was time more people were aware of the fascinating history of solar technology.
Dan Purjes on the History of Solar Technology
Solar energy started in 1838 when Edmund Becquerel suggested light could be turned into energy. Nobody paid much attention until 1860 when Augustin Mouchot patented a solar-powered motor. The fund for this was provided by the French king, and he was able to use solar in a steam engine! Augustin used the rays of the sun by connecting this steam engine to a fridge and created ice. He even received a medal for this. Unfortunately, the French quickly found it cheaper to purchase English coal than to research the applications of solar technology, and people seemed to forget about it.
By 1876, however, William Adamds wrote a book on solar, suggesting it as a fuel substitute in tropical countries. Working together with Richard Day, they created a steam engine with 2.5hp (compared to Augustin’s, which was 0.5hp), and this became the Power Tower Concept. Then, Charles Fritz, in 1883, finally converted the rays of the sun into electricity, albeit with just 2% conversion overall.
Charles Teller, another Frenchman, really changed things in 1885 when he installed a system on his roof to warm his water. His passion lay in refrigeration, but he found that solar energy had an untapped potential for many applications. Yet, because he seed to be able to heat rather than cool only, he gave up on his endeavors.
John Erikson from Sweden was the first to develop a solar company, which is when things started to become more industrialized as well. By 1892, many different people were working with solar, trying to develop it so that it became more fit for purpose. Henry Willsie developed a huge solar array in California, which was truly groundbreaking despite the fact that it had to close its doors in 1904.
Since then, there have been tremendous advancements in the field of solar energy. We now understand just how vital it is to the overall sustainability of our planet. We are consumers, as human beings, and we require energy to sustain our consumption. Unfortunately for us, we have nearly consumed all of our fossil fuels, and this means that we have to look elsewhere for our energy. We can all be incredibly grateful to those early inventors for experimenting with solar power so that we can now build on what they have already done.