The History of Solar Energy

The usage of solar panels may be on the rise, but the idea of utilizing solar energy has been around for a lot longer than one would think. One of the earliest instances of harnessing the power of solar energy occurred in 1839 by Alexandre Edmond Becquerel, who made the discovery that certain materials were able to produce small amounts of energy when exposed to sunlight. What Becquerel discovered would eventually be what we call photovoltaic (PV) energy. It would be another hundred years, however, until solar energy was seen as more than just a science experiment.


In the mid ‘50s, scientists were able to patent their method of converting sunlight directly into energy, by using silicon-based solar cells. In 1955, the very first solar energy product was announced, operating at an efficiency rate of 2 percent. In 1978, Congress passed the Public Utility Regulatory Act (PURPA), which gave large, independent power producers access to utilize PV energy in an effort to avoid the cost of producing the energy themselves.

Over the last 20 years, California has been a trail blazer in the world of solar energy. The state has been home to several large solar facilities, and in 2015 the Interstate Renewable Energy Council named California as the first state to generate more than 5% of its electricity from solar. The benefits of switching to solar are nothing to scoff at – the energy is renewable, requires little maintenance, and can save you money on rising electricity costs.


At SunPower® by Alternative Energy Systems, our team specializes in residential and commercial solar installations in the North Valley, Sacramento, Yuba City, Chico, Redding, and its surrounding areas. We are a family-owned company that is built on a foundation of excellence – our work ethic and customer service is reliable, trustworthy, and reputable.

Are you ready to experience the benefits of going solar? Call (855) 419-1488 to learn more about our services.