History of Solar


  • Bell Labs produces solar PV for the U.S. Government.
  • Western Electric later licenses solar cells and solar for $1,800 per watt.


  • Efficiencies increase from 2% to 13%.


  • Costs drop from $1,000 per watt to under a $100 per watt


  • OPEC Oil Crisis
  • Carter Administration focuses on domestic energy production
  • Puts PV on White House
  • Creates National Renewable Energy Laboratory.


  • Average world oil prices fall by 50%
  • Reagan takes PV off the White House.


  • Increased demand for PV in Japan, Germany, Israel - leads to Kyoto Protocol.
  • U.S. States become proactive: utility deregulation and Clean Energy Fund.


  • Germany, Spain, Japan, U.S. become top producers of solar electric renewable energy.
  • Government mandates will force utilities and companies to comply with 20% renewable energy production by 2012.
  • Federal and state incentives become more readily available.


  • There are now over 22,700 MW of cumulative solar electric capacity operating in the U.S., enough to power more than 4.6 million average American homes.
  • The 3,727 PV systems at U.S. schools have a combined electric capacity of 490 MW, and generate roughly 642,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity every year.


  • In 2020, around 139 GW of global capacity was added, bringing the total to about 760 GW and producing almost 3 percent of the world's electricity
  • Solar accounted for 39% of all new electricity-generating capacity added in the U.S. in the first half of 2021