First Solar Panels in NYCWe haven’t done a #ThrowbackThursday post in quite a while, but lately, Solar One and our partners have been making significant progress in bringing solar power to underserved communities in New York City. But surprisingly, that’s not as new an idea as one might think.

In 1839, a young physicist in France, Edmond Becquerel, discovered the photovoltaic effect— the process that produces voltage (essentially an electric current) when exposed to light or radiant energy. Following in his footsteps, French mathematician Augustin Mouchot continued his work and started registering patents for solar-powered devices as early as the 1860s. In the U.S., inventors filed for their own patents on solar-powered devices as early as 1888.

But way back in 1883, New York inventor Charles Fritts created the first solar cell by coating selenium with a thin layer of gold. According to Fritts, this early module produced a current “that is continuous, constant, and of considerable force.” This cell created energy conversion at a rate of 1 to 2 percent. Most modern solar cells offer about 15 to 20 percent. But hey…not bad for the 19th century!

Here is his installation on a NYC rooftop in 1884. Any guesses as to where that might be?

You can read more about the history of Solar on the SMithsonian website here: A Brief History of Solar Panels | Sponsored | Smithsonian Magazine