Solar Power Simplified: A Bright Idea for Festival Goers – Self Reliance Festival

Solar Power Simplified: A Bright Idea for Festival Goers

by Shawn Mills

As we prepare for the Self Reliance Festival, where sustainability and self-sufficiency take center stage, let’s take a quick dive into the world of solar power. This clean, abundant energy source is not just about modern technology; it has a rich history that aligns perfectly with our festival’s ethos.

A Brief Journey Through Solar Power History

The concept of harnessing the sun’s energy dates back centuries, but the birth of photovoltaic (PV) technology—that turns sunlight directly into electricity—began in the 19th century. In 1839, French physicist Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect while experimenting with an electrolytic cell made up of two metal electrodes placed in an electrolyte. He noticed that when exposed to light, the cell produced more electricity, laying the groundwork for solar panels.

Fast forward to 1954, scientists at Bell Labs in the U.S. created the first practical silicon solar cell, the direct predecessor to today’s solar panels. Initially, this technology was too expensive for widespread use and found its first practical application in space satellites. The Vanguard I, launched in 1958, was the first satellite to use solar energy to power its radios. Its success paved the way for solar panels to become the standard power source for satellites.

The energy crises of the 1970s acted as a catalyst for solar technology development, making it more efficient and affordable. Governments and researchers invested in making solar power a viable alternative to fossil fuels, leading to significant advancements in solar PV efficiency and a reduction in costs.  The first residential PV system was installed in 1973.

The number of PV installations in the US reached 1 Million 43 years later in 2016, but three years later we passed 2 million installations.  As of the end of 2023, it is estimated that 4.7 million homes have PV systems installed.

Why Solar Power Matters to you

Embracing solar power at the Self Reliance Festival is more than just a nod to sustainability; it’s a testament to human ingenuity and our ability to innovate for a better future. Solar energy represents a key to unlocking a world of self-sufficiency, reducing our environmental impact, and embracing a technology that has been evolving for over a century.  I tell people all time that not only is there no such thing as “peak sun” but once you own a solar panel, the incremental cost of fuel is zero, the sun just comes up every day without any additional inputs from you.  Every year since 2019 the average price of a KWH of power from the grid has gone up, while the average cost of a KWH of solar power has gone down.

You can find out more by visiting my website at or by visiting my vendor booth in person at the Self Reliance Festival!


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • No products in the cart.