Blog: How a forgotten incident altered the course of clean energy history

October 19, 2023 – The 20th century witnessed significant advancements across various aspects of society. Fossil fuels played a pivotal role in fuelling industrialization, transportation, and the growth of modern civilization. While fossil fuels facilitated many of these advances, they also gave rise to environmental challenges, including air and water pollution, habitat destruction, and greenhouse gas emissions leading to climate change.

Have you ever wondered how the world might have been different if we could have used sustainable energy sources during that time? The intriguing fact is, we could have! A lesser-known detail is that a solar panel was invented in 1905 by a Canadian inventor, George Cove. His efforts attracted considerable interest in the potential of solar energy. In September 1909, Modern Electric magazine published an article stating, “Given two days’ sun… [the device] will store sufficient electrical energy to light an ordinary house for a week”. However, during the same year, a peculiar and somewhat mysterious incident transpired when Cove was kidnapped. The specifics of the event remain unclear, but his captors demanded that he abandon his solar power work in exchange for his freedom. Remarkably, Cove refused to comply, and although he was eventually released, his enthusiasm for promoting his solar business diminished and eventually faded.

Cove’s solar panel in 1909, Technical World Magazine / wiki, Source: The Conversation

The consequences of this incident were significant. It took another 40 years before serious research into solar energy resumed, and even longer before it became available to the public again. It’s intriguing to imagine how our world might have been different had George Cove not been kidnapped. The good news, however, is that solar energy is here and gaining even more prominence. Today, we witness the widespread adoption of solar power, not only in households but also in large-scale energy generation. As we harness the sun’s energy to power our homes and businesses, we take crucial steps to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate the environmental challenges they have posed for decades. We at Oikon are proud to be part of this.

To learn more about this captivating history and the potential alternative path for solar power, read an article on George Cove featured in The Conversation.

Oikon d.o.o.
Oikon d.o.o.