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A Look Inside Palm Springs Solar Panels

Learn more about Solar Energy

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A drive through Riverside County in California will definitely included at least three images – desert landscape complete the mysterious palm trees with rough bark on their trunks and bushy green tops, a plethora of Spanish-style stucco draped over the all the homes and a variety of shiny, metallic reflectors pointing up to the sun catching its rays and turning them into energy for its resident. A trip through Coachella Valley, its crown jewel being Palm Springs, would not be complete with seeing the multitude of solar panels which dot the landscape. The panels and Palm Springs Solar Power are touted as the best thing in green energy to come along in a while and indeed they have been used in high profile and ordinary situations alike to cut the electricity bill of thousands of residents and businesses. But what exactly is in those solar panels and how do they work? And, more importantly, how do these sunshine capturing silicone wonders save on energy bills?

Palm Springs Solar Panels Stem from Experiments in Radio

Back in the 1880s when American inventor Charles Fritts created the first ever solar cell it was made out of extremely difficult to replicate materials. Fritts created a solar cell by wrapping a semiconductor made from selenium in a thin layer of gold. With gold at about $19 an ounce at that time, no one was willing to mass produce a product that had such an expensive make up. The idea of solar cells was shelved as too much an expense to pay off. There it would have stayed if it wasn’t for a radio enthusiasts named Russell Ohl. Back in the 1920s and 30s radio was king. Though the first public television broadcast would be in 1939, radio remained the dominant mode of communication. Chemical engineers were obsessed with conductivity, coating radio equipment with chemicals that would successfully conduct radio waves further and faster. If you ever tried to get an AM radio station to come into focus, you know how they felt.

The Secret Ingredient in Palm Springs Solar Power

Ohl, encouraged by fellow radio enthusiasts, began experimenting with the crystal silicone as a good semiconductor. One day while experimenting on the silicone he noted that the silicone rod began to change shape whenever it encountered light. He turned his desk lamp on – different shape. He shined a flashlight on it – different shape. Eventually, with the help of other scientists and physicists, Ohl discovered the silicone was making energy and that’s why it changed shape.

 

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