A Timeline Of Solar Power
Australia has the highest uptake of solar globally, with one in four homes sporting solar panels on its roof. But it didn’t happen overnight. Let’s take a look at how it all began.
1767 Horace de Sassure, a scientist from Switzerland, builds the world’s first solar collector.
1839 The PV effect was discovered by Edmond Becquerel, a French scientist.
1905 Einstein published a paper on the photoelectric effect – he won a Nobel Prize for this in 1921
1941 Russell Ohl invents the solar cell.
1950s CSIRO leads research to use solar power to heat water.
1953 The birth of ‘modern’ solar. PV technology is born in the US, with a silicon PV cell – the first to be able to convert enough solar energy to power everyday devices – developed at Bell Labs.
1955 The world’s first commercial building solar water heating is opened.
1964 NASA’s Nimbus satellite is powered by a 470-watt PV.
1970s Solar power is used for navigation warning lights and horns on many offshore gas and oil rigs.
1978 What is believed to be the world’s first fully powered home is built in Pearcedale, Melbourne.
1979 Jimmy Carter installs solar panels on the White House.
1981 The first solar-powered aeroplane is built
1982 VW in German tests PV mounted onto station wagon roofs to generate 160 watts for ignition systems.
1989 UNSW develops the world’s first solar PV system with 20% efficiency.
1998 AGL commissions Australia’s first solar generator – 1250 cells generating 80w of power.
2005 Australia is the world’s fourth-largest solar energy producer.
2016 Tesla Powerwall and Powerpack are released in Australia.
2018 More than 2 million rooftop solar power systems have been installed in Australia.
2021 COVID-19 pandemic disrupts the supply chain of polysilicon, silver, copper and solar glass. This coupled with high demand for solar panels sees a short-term price spike.
2022 A German energy firm announced it is investing in a pilot project centred around the deployment of floating solar technology in the North Sea.