The history of the solar industry and SolarWorld are intermixed, each with one foot squarely positioned in the United States and the other in Germany – the two markets that have led the industry’s development. In the U.S., SolarWorld began as ARCO Solar. Siemens and Shell then owned the unit before SolarWorld bought it.
1954 – Bell Labs announces invention of the first modern silicon solar cells, with energyconversion efficiency of about 6 percent.
1955 – Western Electric licences commercial solar cell technologies.
1957 – AT&T employees Gerald L. Pearson, Daryl M. Chapin and Calvin S. Fuller receive patent US2780765, “Solar Energy Converting Apparatus.”
1958 – Hoffman Electronics- Semiconductor Division creates 9%-efficient solar cells. Vanguard 1, the first solar-powered satellite, is launched with .1 watt solar panel.
1960 – Hoffman Electronics creates a 14%-efficient solar cell.
1961 – United Nations stages “Solar Energy in the Developing World” conference.
1962 – The Telstar communications satellite is powered by solar cells.
1963 – Viable photovoltaic module is produced out of silicon solar cells.
1964 – Yale University Press publishes Farrington Daniels’ landmark book, “Direct Use of the Sun’s Energy.”
1967 – Soyuz 1 becomes first manned spacecraft using solar.
1973 – Solar cells power Skylab, the first U.S. space station.
1974 – A home in New Mexico is the world’s first to be powered only by solar and wind energy.
1977 – Engineer and entrepreneur Bill Yerkes sells startup Solar Technology International to Atlantic Richfield Co., forming ARCO Solar.
1979 – In Camarillo, Calif., ARCO Solar dedicates world’s largest PV factory to making silicon crystal ingots, wafers, photovoltaic cells and modules.
1980 – ARCO Solar becomes first company to produce more than 1 megawatt of PV modules in one year.
1982 – ARCO Solar commissions world’s first 1 MW grid-connected PV installation.
1985 – Australia’s University of New South Wales creates silicon cells with 20% efficiency in laboratory.
1990 – Siemens acquires ARCO Solar, forming Siemens Solar.
1996 – Siemens Solar celebrates 100 MW of installed power from modules made in Camarillo.
1997 – Siemens becomes first company to offer 25-year warranty.
1998 – SolarWorld forms as startup business, entering Germany’s burgeoning solar market.
1999 – Germany requires utilities to pay “feed-in tariffs” at fixed premium rates to owners of solar systems for power contributed into grid.
2002 – Royal Dutch Shell acquires Siemens Solar, creating Shell Solar.
2006 – SolarWorld aquires Shell Solar.
2007 – Investors begin offering free installation in return for long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs), which become common financing arrangements.
2008 – SolarWorld opens 480,000 square-foot plant in Hillsboro, investing $500 million to establish 500 MW of annual capacity and 1,000 employees there.