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Solar industry information

What is the history of solar industry?

The solar industry as it exists today is relatively new, but the concept of solar power has been in existence since the 1700s. During that time, the sun's energy was sometimes used to heat water in order to produce steam that would drive machinery. It was in 1839 that Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered how sunlight could be converted into energy via the photovoltaic (PV) effect. Becquerel discovered that shining light on certain materials could create an electric current – albeit a weak one. Unfortunately, the technology did not exist to create efficient PV panels like those in use today, so his discovery couldn't lead to a large-scale solar revolution.

It wasn't until more than a hundred years later that Russell Ohl invented the solar cell and Calvin Fuller, Gerald Pearson and Daryl Chapin created the first silicon solar cell. A New York Times article predicted "the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of harnessing the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization." It was during the 1950s that the modern solar energy industry began to develop, though the cost of solar cells put solar energy out of everyday consumers' reach. Solar cells in radios and calculators were our only exposure to PV technology.

During the 1970s, lower-cost ways to produce solar cells were discovered, creating solutions for commercial and eventually for homes. Today, installing a solar power system is a relatively simple way to secure affordable energy rates over the long term because the price of solar panels is lower than ever.

What is the solar industry like today?

Thanks to new technologies developed by the solar industry, the cost of solar panel technology has dropped in the past decade. That, coupled with growing interest from consumers, has made solar panels less costly to manufacture and install. Solar power was once out of reach for homeowners, but is now an affordable alternative to energy sourced from coal and gas. Consumers like solar energy because it is reliable, safe and eco-friendly. Today, the solar industry has created financing options that make switching to solar much easier.

On the performance side, today's solar panel industry is releasing PV options that are efficient, lightweight and aesthetically pleasing. Federal tax credits may cover up to 30 percent of your solar power system. Depending on where you live, there may be other local and utility rebates that bring down the price of a solar power system. The savings can add up to thousands over the next 30 years.

How can SolarCity help?

The solar industry has developed technology to provide a clean and safe energy source that frequently costs less than power from energy companies. SolarCity has created affordable options to ensure that renewable solar energy is within reach. Our highly-trained technicians can install a customized solar power system that lets you secure today's affordable energy rates over the long term.

When you contract with SolarCity for a solar lease or to purchase a solar panel system, your electricity rates will go down as soon as your system is switched on. It all starts with a no-obligation consultation of your energy goals to be sure you're getting the right system. From there we handle everything from the financing and solar panel design, to permitting, installation and monitoring. Call us today to find out if solar power is the right option for you.

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