The Early Years of Solar Energy

6th September 2017 by in category Blog tagged as , , , , with 0 and 3

In video: a look at some solar energy video clips from the 1970s

Solar energy image by Wang Song (via Shutterstock).

The norm, rather than the exception: solar energy. Image by Wang Song (via Shutterstock).

In the last fifty years, we have come a long way in terms of solar energy use and supply. If you’re a child of the 1980s, your first experience of solar power could be your pocket calculator. Though light years away from today’s photovoltaic systems, it instilled into your head that solar panels could be used for anything. No more batteries required. Then came portable solar powered radios: no more batteries for your favourite Right Said Fred track on Leicester Sound, ever again.

Our selection of video clips show you how far we have come in the last fifty years. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

NASA’s experimental house

This clip dates from the mid-1970s. Solar energy was explored as a primary power source, following the 1973 oil crisis, which led to queues outside petrol stations and fuel rationing. Over in Huntsville, Alabama, NASA had a cunning plan.

Solar Cells documentary

This film dates from 1976, again of American origin. Some of the basic ideas we see today are present, though solar panel arrays are likely to be in a static position, nearest to the sun’s rays.

Solar Energy: The Great Adventure

This one dates from 1978, and shows solar energy began to make inroads in residential projects.

45 years ago…

Here’s a poser for you: where was Britain’s very first solar powered house built? The answer, alas, wasn’t Loughborough (our town was building diesel locomotives back then). It was built in Milton Keynes, in the new town’s Bradville district. It was built back in 1972 and one thing the pioneering property did teach us, was how hard it was to get active solar heating to work. This led to the development of photovoltaic solar panels. As the technology improved, this was followed by the Solar Court and the Home World Ideal Home.

LJ Electrical of Loughborough, 06 September 2017.

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