Solar panels seem like they’ve been around awhile, don’t they? While the sun has been around since time began, solar panels are a more recent development, getting their start in 1955.

Though you’d almost expect solar panels to have been first developed in a sunny state like Florida or California, the solar panel got its start in… New Jersey. It was there, in the mid-1950s, that scientists from Bell Laboratories came up with the first practical photovoltaic cell. Using razor blade-sized strips of silicon, the scientists found success at converting sun rays into electricity. Soon after that, in 1958, Bell Labs provided solar electric power for NASA’s first permanent satellite.

In the 1960s and 1970s, New Jersey became the leader in solar research thanks to the efforts of a company you’ve probably heard of: Exxon. Labs were set up in Linden and Florham Park, and the company spent more money on solar technology research during that time than the U.S. government did! Exxon was convinced that oil was on its way out and solar was on its way in as reports that society would run out of oil in the coming decades surfaced. Exxon helped make solar energy a viable alternative to oil.

Interestingly, while practical solar panels were a mid-Twentieth Century development, it was way back in 1839 when Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect which allows for sunlight to be turned into electricity. Attempts to make this effect work for practical purposes didn’t work out well at the time. Eventually, though, in 1941, Russell Ohl invented the solar cell. From there, Bell Labs utilized solar cell technology to develop solar panels.

Now that it’s 2016, something interesting has happened: solar employment has overtaken oil, gas and coal employment in the U.S. according to an article from Bloomberg.

GR Solar Solutions is one of the companies providing solar power to thousands of people in New Mexico, Texas and beyond. Find out how GR Solar Solutions can save you money through solar panels by calling 915-581-0461.

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