The first solar panel

It was Bell Laboratories that, in 1954, created the first modern-day example of the solar cell.

This highly efficient cell was developed by three scientists by the name of Daryl Chapin, Calvin Souther Fuller and Gerald Pearson. The device used a silicon p-n junction and at first was used in smaller objects such as toys, because the cost of the electricity the technology produced was very high. At the time a cell that produced 1 watt of power from sunlight, cost around £170, while the same energy produced by a coal plant cost about 30p!

With these kinds of economies involved, it seemed that solar technology was due to be consigned to the rubbish heap of throwaway technologies.

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