1954 Photovoltaic technology is born in the United States — the first solar cell capable of
generating enough power from the sun to run everyday electrical equipment. A silicon
solar cell with 6% efficiency and later, 11% efficiency is developed.
1960 Photovoltaic cells reach 14% efficiency.
1970 A significantly less costly solar cell is designed, bringing the price down from $100 per
watt to $20 per watt. Solar cells begin powering navigation warning lights and horns on
offshore gas and oil rigs, lighthouses, and railroad crossings.
1977Total photovoltaic manufacturing production exceeds 500 kilowatts; 1kilowatt is enough power to light about ten 100-watt light bulbs.
1980 At the University of Delaware, the first thin-film solar cell exceeds 10% efficiency; it’s
made of copper sulfide and cadmium sulfide.
1985 Researchers at the University of South Wales break the 20% efficiency barrier for silicon
1986 The world’s first commercial thin-film module is released.
1992 Researchers at the University of South Florida develop a 15.9% efficient thin-film
photovoltaic cell made of cadmium telluride, breaking the 15% barrier for this technology
1999 A 32.3% efficient solar cell is developed. Researchers at the National Renewable Energy
Laboratory develop a record-breaking prototype solar cell that measures 18.8% efficient,
topping the previous record for thin-film cells by more than 1%. Cumulative installed
photovoltaic capacity reaches 1000 megawatts, worldwide.
2000 Triple Junction solar cells began with efficiencies of approximately 24%.
2002 Triple Junction cells efficiency increased to 26%.
2005 Triple Junction modules up to 28% efficiency.
2007 Latest report is that Triple Junction solar cells have evolved to a 30% efficiency.