A brief history of solar energy development and utilization


Mankind has a long history of using solar energy. Many foreign documents mainly refer to Archimedes, a famous scientist in ancient Greece, who was the first man to use solar energy. According to legend, in 214 BC, the ancient Greek scientist Archimedes asked hundreds of soldiers to face the sun with polished shields and reflectors, so that the sun shining on the shields were reflected and focused, and aimed at attacking Sicily. The wooden warships of the ancient Roman Empire in Port Seuss caused the invading fleet to be burned and sunk and disintegrated. However, historical research shows that the history of mankind’s use of solar energy does not originate from Archimedes, but can also be traced back to more ancient times.

The history of solar energy utilization in ancient China is far less well-known than the four great inventions, but in fact China is one of the earliest countries in the world to use solar energy. The ancestors of the Chinese nation are the earliest and most outstanding pioneers in the use of solar energy. According to ancient records, as early as the 11th century BC (Western Zhou Dynasty), our ancestors had invented the use of copper concave mirrors to gather sunlight to light moxa to make fire. Ancient books call it “sun tunnels to make fire.” This is a primitive solar concentrator, which occupies an important position in the history of world scientific invention, about 900 years before Archimedes used solar energy to focus. Nowadays, in the Chinese Museum, there is also a collection of sunsui, a device that uses solar energy to make fire, unearthed in the Spring and Autumn, Han, Tang, and Song dynasties. The ancient book “Zhou Li·The Duties of Sikou Criminal Officer” records: “The palm of the husband takes the open fire on the sun, and the water on the moon, so as to sacrifice it.” It is collected on the Yangsui of the Han Dynasty in the Tianjin Museum. There is a clear inscription: “On May 5th, Bingwu, the fire can take the fire from the sky, except for the ominous,” “It is suitable for the son to be the first king, and for the son to be the first, and Changle is not young.” , A more profound and systematic analysis of the optical imaging principle of the four-sided mirror. In the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC to 8 AD) Huainan King Liu An wrote in the “Huainanzi? Tiantian Xun”: “So when the sun sees the sun, it burns into fire.” In the Western Jin Dynasty more than 1,000 years ago, some people further discovered the characteristic of convex lens focusing. Since there was no glass at the time, the ice was ground into a convex lens, which was used to focus the sun and make fire. This is clearly and clearly recorded in Zhang Hua’s “Natural History”: “If you cut the ice for life, lift up to the sun, and take the shadow of Ai, you will get fire.” Ice will melt when heated, and our ancestors But using it to make fire, what an ingenious invention this is, it fully demonstrates its superb ingenuity. During the Northern Song Dynasty (960~1127 AD), Shen Kuo described in detail the use of Yang Sui to make fire in Volume 3 of his “Mengxi Bi Tan”: One or two inches away from the mirror, the light condenses into one point, as big as a sesame seed, but when the object is touched, it will become hot.” ​​At that time, a bronze mirror was used and superb polishing technology was used to create the world’s earliest solar concentrator. Its principle is the same as that of the present The rotating parabolic solar concentrator is exactly the same.

However, due to the constraints of productivity and the low level of scientific and technological development, in a long historical period of human society, solar energy has always been in the initial stage of natural use, in addition to being used for fire. It is mainly used to dry grains, fruits and vegetables, Meat, fish, clothing, leather, etc. It was not until the second half of the 20th century, with the rapid development of science and technology and modern industrial production, that under the background of the limited fossil energy resources and the increasingly destructive effects of fossil fuels on the ecological environment, did it promote people’s awareness of solar energy. The emphasis on utilization has entered the stage of applying modern science and technology to the development and utilization of solar energy. From a global perspective, it has truly attracted the attention of the international community and organized large-scale research and development and experimental demonstration of solar energy utilization, which began in the early 1960s. The International New Energy Conference held by the United Nations in Rome in 1961 made the development and utilization of solar energy one of the main topics. At that time, many countries attached great importance to research on solar energy utilization based on modern science and technology. Later, due to the rapid development of oil production, interest in the use of solar energy was once reduced. The global oil crisis that began in the early 1970s once again aroused people’s enthusiasm for the use of solar energy. Many countries have used considerable manpower, material and financial resources to carry out research on solar energy use, and have formulated a nationwide approach to the use of solar energy. , Long-term planning. In 1979, U.S. President Carter officially announced that by 2000, renewable energy based on solar energy would be developed to account for 20% of the country’s energy composition. The Japanese government has also formulated the famous “Sunshine Plan” to accelerate the research and development of solar energy utilization technology. The European Union has established joint research and test bases for solar energy utilization in several member states. Many countries have established solar energy industries. China began research on modern solar energy utilization devices in the late 1950s, and has included solar energy utilization in the national plan for arrangements since the early 1970s. Since then, the research and development, test demonstration and popularization and application of solar energy utilization have been carried out in a targeted, planned, and step-by-step manner, and they have been carried out worldwide. After nearly 60 years of hard work, many results have been achieved, which have enabled the rapid development of modern solar energy utilization technology and its industry, and laid a solid technical and industrial foundation for the more extensive development and utilization of solar energy in the 21st century.