60 Years of Solar Cells

 

Bell executives presented the first practical solar cell to the world at a press conference on April 25, 1954.

At the time of Bell’s announcement in 1954, all the solar cells in the world delivered less than one watt. Today, more than 120 gigawatts of generating capacity of photovoltaics have been installed worldwide. This year not only marks the 60th anniversary of the silicon solar cell but also the beginning of reaching the Holy Grail solar scientists have only previously dreamt of before “ entering the Era of Grid Parity, where solar panels begin to generate power at costs equal to or less than electricity produced by fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

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What does this mean? Simple! Massive amounts of cleanly produced electricity will become a reality in our lifetime.

In fact, on April 26, 1954, The New York Times noted on page one, that the Bell solar cell “may mark the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams“ – the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.  U.S. News and World Report came out with a story as full of hope as the Times piece with the title: Fuel Unlimited,” exclaiming that the silicon solar cells “…may provide more power than all the world’s coal, oil and uranium.¦Engineers are dreaming of silicon powerhouses. The future is limitless.”

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