Paying Homage: 23 Solar Pioneers Whose Names You SHOULD Know

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Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás, aka George Santayana, was an American philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist. One of his most famous quotations was this: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This is one of Editorial Director Frank Andorka’s favorite quotations of all time (as a former history major, this is no surprise, of course). 

Which got the Solar Power World team to thinking: How many of us in today’s solar industry know the names of the innovators, pioneers that made our industry possible? So we did a little research and put together a list of the 23 solar pioneers whose names you should know. Enjoy.

(We’d like to thank the U.S. Department of Energy for its excellent solar history timeline, from which these pioneers were taken.)

1. Archimedes

 

As early as 212 BC, the Greek scientist, Archimedes, used the reflective properties of bronze shields to focus sunlight and to set fire to wooden ships from the Roman Empire which were besieging Syracuse. As a result, he became the father of concentrated solar power.

 

As early as 212 BC, the Greek scientist, Archimedes, used the reflective properties of bronze shields to focus sunlight and to set fire to wooden ships from the Roman Empire which were besieging Syracuse. As a result, he became the father of concentrated solar power.

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Comments

  1. Number 10: Definitely one of the most influential!

    John M
    California Solar Systems
    http://855casolar.com

  2. Nancy Hiler says:

    Hi,

    I was very surprised to see that the “Father of Modern Solar Energy” Stanford R. Ovshinsky (1922-2012), the physicist and inventor who had been granted some 400 patents over the course of his life, most related to energy, many related to solar energy. His most famous invention was of continuous web multi-junction flexible thin-film photovoltaic laminates and panels — amorphous thin-film solar cells, for short, consisting of many thin, flexible layers in sheets. Thin-film, versus bulk silicon (also called crystalline) panels, which is what most of us have on our rooftops today, have the advantage of being flexible and very low in weight, suitable particularly for building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) uses.

  3. patb2009 says:

    I”m surprised you left off Stan Ovishinsky.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_R._Ovshinsky#Energy_Conversion_Laboratory

    Stan did tremendous work in thin films, amorphous and low cost PV.

  4. arne-nl says:

    Hermann Scheer, who masterminded the German EEG that kickstarted the mass production and caused the massive price drops of the past few years.

  5. solardell says:

    I guess this is not who youshould know in Solar but who in PV. There are over 300 MW of solar thermal installed each year in North America. Albeit not a “cool” as PV but Solar non the less. There were guys like George Lof, Freeman Ford, Wm Bailey,Bud Carruthers. I’m just saying there is a Solar technology that is still delivering solar energy at less than 5 cents per kWh….solar thermal 🙂

  6. Naked In Space says:

    (Smith) …and the first scientist to pioneer the use of sideburns as effective solar collectors.

  7. Naked In Space says:

    (Becquerel) And a very impressive NHL playoff beard going on as well…(go kings)

  8. Naked In Space says:

    Well, you may not know it…but at least other people do.

  9. Frédéric C. Siros says:

    His actual name is Augustin Mouchot. He wrote a book “La chaleur solaire et ses applications industrielles” (I don’t know if it was translated in English) that can be bought on line.

    • Frédéric:

      Thanks for letting us know. We took his name from the Department of Energy website, so we apologize for getting it wrong. We have fixed it on the page (see above).

      For the record, I translated the title of his book for you:

      Solar heat and its industrial applications

      Thanks again for the information. We truly do appreciate it.

  10. Barry Johnston @GreenGrounded says:
  11. Number 22: Elon Musk? He probably won’t bring forth a new scientific discovery. Not that he hasn’t earned his bones in scientific research. But like an Andrew Carnegie or a Steve Jobs. I think Elon will be included on this list in the future for helping solar become more mainstream via Solar City and his especially with his work at Tesla.