A Timeline of Solar Energy History
As was covered in our article, Solar Energy History Part I, solar power is not a new subject.
The following time line begins with the first most basic uses of solar energy.
- 700 B.C. – An early form of solar energy is invented: the use of a magnifying glass to concentrate the sun’s rays on a fuel and thus light a fire – for light, for warmth, and for cooking. This method is still in use, though the technology has advanced a bit.
- 300 B.C. – Greeks and Romans use mirrors to reflect and concentrate solar energy when lighting torches for religious purposes.
- 200 B.C. – The Greek scientist, Archimedes, uses concentrated solar power technology, by combining reflective properties of many polished bronze shields, to focus sunlight and thus set fire to an invading Roman fleet while it is besieging Syracuse. (In 1973, The Greek navy recreated this scenario as an experiment, and succeeded in setting fire to a wooden boat 50 meters away.)
- 20 A.D.– The Chinese use solar energy by employing mirrors to light torches at religious ceremonies.
- 100 to 400 A.D. – Throughout the first four centuries after Christ, Roman bath houses employ passive solar heating by building the bath houses with large, south-facing windows, to let the sun’s warmth in. This aspect of passive solar technology is still used by architects today.
- 600 A.D.
Sun rooms on houses and public buildings become so commonplace, that laws are established regarding “sun rights” to ensure that buildings have access to the sun. These laws are recorded under the Justinian Code.
- 1300 A.D. – The ancestors of the Pueblo people known as the Anasazi build their cliff dwellings in south-facing cliffs, so as to capture the warmth of the winter sun.
The History of Solar Energy in the Industrial Age
The above events cover the early history of solar power and solar energy utilization.
The next major advancements occurred in the 17th century, and were of a more technical nature. This is where solar energy technology really came into existence.
The book, Alternative Energy Resources: The Quest for Sustainable Energy, covers the history of solar energy from the Industrial Age into the present day.
This book also discusses the various available sources of renewable energy sources available, such as hydroelectric energy, wind energy, biomass, and geothermal energy. It also discusses other forms of alternative energy – nuclear energy, and the use of hydrogen.
This book evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of each source of energy. The author takes into account our energy requirements, environmental impact, and the availability of different forms of alternative energy, and he proposes his own suggestion as to what he thinks would be the most viable and feasible energy source for us in the modern day.