Renewable energy is exactly what it sounds like: energy which can be renewed, unlike gas, oil, or coal, which is a limited energy source. Renewable energy sources are typically more eco-friendly and cost effective, although they haven't always been so. Let's take a look at the history of renewable energy with the brief timeline below.
200 B.C. - "Waterwheels" are now being used by Europeans to produce energy used in mills.
1590's - The Dutch build their infamous, enormous windmills to generate power for nearly everything.
1850's - Windmills have now become popular in the American Old West to pump water for settlers and railroad workers.
1860 - The first solar power system, called a "sun meter" is developed in France by Augustine Mouchet.
1876 - The first demonstration of how electricity can be generated directly from the sun through a selenium solar cell is performed by William Grylls Adams - along with his student, Richard Evans Day.
1882 - Thomas Edison builds the first electric plant in New York, and the first commercial hydroelectric plant begins operating in Appleton, Wisconsin.
1888 - Charles F. Brush invents the first windmill used to generate electricity in Cleveland, Ohio.
1905 - Famed scientist, Albert Einstein, publishes the first theoretical paper detailing what is called the "photoelectric effect." It describes the energy contained in light cells, and how that energy may be harnessed.
1927 - The first commercial wind turbines are sold to remote farmers to generate electricity.
1935 - The Hoover Dam, which is the world's largest hydroelectric plant, is built on the Colorado River, in Arizona.
1951 - The world's first nuclear power reactor is built in Idaho during scientific testing on how to use nuclear power to generate electricity.
1953 - Gerald Pearson, Daryl Chapin, and Calvin Fuller of Bell Laboratories develop the first silicon solar cell.
1957 - Shippingport, Pennsylvania becomes the home of the first commercial nuclear power plant.
1958 - The first US satellite in orbit uses solar energy as it's power source.
1978 - Tohno O'odham Reservation in Arizona is the world's first solar powered village.
1981 - The world's first large scale solar-thermal plant (Solar One) begins operation in Dagget, California.
1986 - The world's first windfarm is constructed in New Hampshire.
1996 - The Solar Two Plant demonstrates a more cost efficient form of storing solar energy.
2009 - The US announces allocation of $467 million in Recovery Act Funding for the development of Solar Energy.
2014 - The world's largest concentrated power generation plant (Ivanpah) goes live.