chapter  5
16 Pages

Terrestrial Photovoltaic Industry: The Beginning

The successful utilization of photovoltaic (PV) cells to supply the

electric needs of satellites used for various purposes gave the

idea and an assurance that PV could also be used successfully

for large scale terrestrial applications. The obvious problem was

that at that time the price of PV cells made for the satellites

was about $300/Wp.a By 1972, several of the US government

organizations, which had needs for telecommunication in remote

areas, decided to try to use PV systems to power those equipment.

The two US manufacturers of solar cells and panels for space use,

Heliotek (Spectrolab) and Centralab, both located in California, were

contacted to supply PV cells connected in a module to provide 12 V

dc power. Obviously the price of the space solar cells at that timewas

still over $100/Wp and therefore to use them for these terrestrial

applications was not feasible, only PV cells which were rejects for

space could be used. The amount of these rejects were not much

and only a very few experimental telecommunication systems were

made.