THE HISTORY OF SOLAR ENERGY
More than 2,500 years ago, the Greeks designed their houses to capture the
sunīs radiation during winter. The Hellenic culture was the first to learn
how to build their houses in order to benefit from solar rays during the
moderately cold winters and to avoid the sunīs heat during the warm summers.
And that was how the idea of solar architecture was born: designing
buildings in ways that they render the most benefit from of the sun.
The Romans adopted the Greekīs knowledge of solar energy capturing. They
employed glass in their window openings to better capture and maintain the
heat from the sun in their homes. They tried avoiding heat losses and
applied heat capturing methods as used in their greenhouses into their
public buildings and baths. These first "greenhouses" captured the sunīs
radiation much more efficiently and multiplied their yearly harvests.
The first mechanical "devise" that functioned without the help of any
combustion fuel and only with the power of the sun was designed by the
French engineer, Agustín Mouchot, in 1866. A conic reflector would heat the
entire surface of a boiler which would produce steam that powered a steam
engine. This "invention" was capable of generating enough heat in order to
move a 1/2 hp motor at 80 revolutions per minute.