11. Solar and Photovoltaic

I. Photovoltaics Milestones

Early 1950s First photovoltaics created Photovoltaic technology was born in the United States with the invention of the solar silicon cell at Bell Labs in the early 1950s.
1958 Federal support linked to Vanguard satellite Federal support for photovoltaic technology was initially tied to the space program, where its first significant use was to provide power for the Vanguard satellite in 1958.
1973 Interest in terrestrial applications created by oil shock Spurred by the first world oil shock in 1973, interest in terrestrial applications of photovoltaics blossomed.
Late 1970s Integrated Buildings Program established By the late 1970s, a program for the development of distributed photovoltaics was established by the Department of Energy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, focusing on design and demonstration issues for the buildings sector.
1978 Energy tax credit The Energy Tax Act of 1978 established a 10-percent investment credit for photovoltaic applications.
1978 Solar Photovoltaic Energy, Research, Development and Demonstration Act The Act committed $1.2 billion (current dollars) over 10 years to improve photovoltaic production levels, reduce costs, and stimulate private-sector purchases.
1978 Photovoltaic energy commercialization program This program established a photovoltaic commercialization pathway, accelerating the installation of photovoltaic systems in Federal facilities.
1980 Carlisle House completed The Carlisle house was completed in 1980, with participation from MIT, DOE, and Solar Design Associates. The residence featured the first building-integrated photovoltaic system, passive solar heating and cooling, superinsulation, internal thermal mass, earth-sheltering, daylighting, a roof-integrated solar thermal system, and a 7.5-peak-watt photovoltaic array of polycrystalline modules from Solarex.
1980 Crude Oil Profit Windfall Tax In April 1980, the Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax was enacted, raising the residential tax credit to 40 percent of the first $10,000 for photovoltaic applications, raising the business tax credit to 15 percent, and extending the credit to the end of 1985.
1981 More than 10 percent efficiency achieved by thin film cells Boeing and Kodak fabricated the first thin-film photovoltaic cells with efficiencies greater than 10 percent.
1984 World price of photovoltaics below $10 per watt The world price of photovoltaic modules fell below $10 per peak watt (1993 dollars) in 1984 (Worldwatch Institute).
1985 6-megawatt Carissa Plains plant completedIn 1985, the 6-megawatt Carissa Plains plant was added to Southern California Edison's system. The project was later dismantled.
1989 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technology Competitiveness Act The Act sought to improve the operational reliability of photovoltaic modules, increase module efficiencies, decrease direct manufacturing costs, and improve electric power production costs.
1989 PVUSA formed In 1989, PV for Utility Scale Applications (PVUSA), a national public-private partnership program, was created to assess and demonstrate the viability of utility-scale photovoltaic electric generating systems. PVUSA participants include Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), DOE, the Electric Power Research Institute, the California Energy Commission, and eight utilities and other agencies. The project was designed to provide utilities with the hands-on experience needed to evaluate and apply photovoltaic technologies, provide manufacturers with a test bed for their products, and generate communication between utilities and the photovoltaics industry.
1990 ARCO Solar bought by Siemens In February 1990, Siemens A.G. of Munich, West Germany, acquired California-based ARCO Solar, the world's largest photovoltaic company. The sale, valued at $30 to $50 million, was a stock transaction, with Siemens buying all ARCO Solar stock and certain other assets related to its business.
1990 PVMaT formed In early 1990, the PV Manufacturing Technology (PVMaT) project was begun. The activity is a government/industry research and development partnership between DOE and members of the U.S. photovoltaic industry. PVMaT is designed to improve manufacturing processes, accelerate manufacturing cost reductions for photovoltaic modules, improve commercial product performance, and lay the groundwork for a substantial scale-up of manufacturing capacity.
1992 15 percent efficiency achieved by thin- film cells The University of South Florida fabricated a 15.89-percent efficient thin-film cell, breaking the 15-percent barrier for the first time.
1992 World price below $5 per watt The world price of photovoltaic modules fell below $5 per peak watt (1993 dollars) in 1992 (Worldwatch Institute).
1993 First grid-supported system installed In March 1993, as part of the PVUSA program, PG&E completed the installation of the first grid-supported photovoltaic system in Kerman, California. The 500- kilowatt system was the first effort aimed at ■distributed power,■ where a relatively small amount of power is carefully matched to a specific load and is produced near the point of consumption. The approach differs significantly from the traditional utility-supply model, where electricity is generated at a central point and distributed to outlying areas through high-voltage transmission lines.
1993 Record world efficiencies announced New world-record efficiencies in polycrystalline thin film and single-crystal devices, approaching 16 percent and 30 percent, respectively, were achieved in 1993.
1995 Joint venture by Amoco and Enron Two major energy companies announced their intention to use amorphous silicon modules for utility-scale photovoltaic applications.

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