A brief history of solar

Australia has a proud history of supporting solar. For over 60 years we’ve been a leader in solar.

We’ve developed solar hot-water systems, created solar-powered payphones using solar space technology and we’re home to the one of the largest solar plant. There are many accomplishments Australia should be proud of.

Let’s take a look at where solar power began and the role Australia’s played in turning it into a viable energy source for millions worldwide.

Where did it begin?

1839: The photovoltaic effect was discovered by a French physicist named Alexandre-Edmund Becquerrel. His research became the basis of many solar technologies used today.

The first solar cell.

1873: An English electrical engineer named Willoughby Smith found the first photoconductive solid, selenium, enabling solar energy to be harvested without moving parts.

1883: Charles Fritts, an American electrical engineer made the world’s first working solar cell.

Australia leads solar research.

1950’s: The CSIRO led the world in research to use solar power in heating water, creating the world’s first solar hot water systems.

Solar expands.

1973: The Oil Crisis of 1973 caused solar water heaters to increase in use in Australian homes thanks to the skyrocketing cost of energy.

Solar telecommunication.

1978: Solar PV panels were adapted from spacecraft for remote area telecommunications by Telecom Australia.

Australia breaks records.

1989: UNSW develops the world’s first solar PV system with 20 per cent efficiency.

AGL goes solar.

1998: AGL commissions Australia’s first solar generator with 1,250 cells, each generating 80 watts of power.

Producing on the global stage.

2005: Australia is a global leader, being the fourth largest producer of solar energy worldwide.

Getting Hungry for Solar.

2014: Australia surpasses 4 gigawatts of solar capacity, and estimates suggest more than 40 per cent of Queenslanders and South Australians are using solar panels.

AGL leads Solar.

2015: The final photovoltaic modules are installed in the Nyngan Solar Plant, set to be one of the largest solar plants when it begins operations.

Congratulations, Australia. We’ve come a long way.