Our History

ASES was founded in 1954, the same year that Bell Labs patented the first silicon solar cell. This highly efficient photovoltaic material launched the solar industry and a period of endless opportunity and innovation.

ASES was established by visionaries who imagined a brighter future than the preceding postwar decades had produced. These pioneering minds understood the deep historical precedent of thousands of years of solar utilization through passive solar design and solar thermal technology. With the use of silicon for photovoltaics, they envisioned a new era of energy innovation when these and other proven technologies would speed the world toward a more peaceful, sustainable energy economy.

ASES and ISES began as the Association For Applied Solar Energy (AFASE), founded in Arizona by Farrington Daniels (a University of Wisconsin researcher), together with Arizona businessmen Henry Sargent, Walter Bimson, and Frank Snell. The first AFASE solar conference was held shortly thereafter, in Tucson in 1955, followed by the World Symposium on Applied Solar Energy the following week in Phoenix. The scientists from Bell Labs demonstrated their solar cells at the exhibition associated with the Phoenix Conference. In January 1964, the AFASE changed its name to the Solar Energy Society (SES). By then the SES already had several international branches (later called Sections); the first being Australia-New Zealand, formed in 1962, followed by Chile and then Italy. The SES had financial difficulties throughout the 60’s. In 1970 the Australian-New Zealand section invited the SES Board to host their meeting in Melbourne. A five-day Congress, with financing from the Australian Government, was organized in conjunction with that meeting. At that Board meeting, a decision was made to move the SES offices from Arizona to Melbourne, and a proposal was agreed upon for the creation of the American Solar Energy Society. The official name changes to ISES and ASES occurred in 1971, when the necessary legal documents were filed. For several years, ASES was run by unpaid staff. In 1976, Karl Boer created the first ASES office in Florida, and in 2020, ASES relocated to Colorado.

The vision that launched an industry

Many among solar, renewable energy and sustainability’s finest have left their marks on ASES. Whether as leaders, supporters, staff, board members, educators, researchers, or advisors, their tireless efforts, expertise and vision over more than 60 years have had a positive, dramatic effect. Could they have imagined the many business models and economies they would spawn? The subsequent entrepreneurship, research and design ultimately shifted 21st – Century thinking and lifestyles toward smarter, more sustainable lifestyle choices.  

A legacy of leadership

The impact of these early solar champions can be seen in:

  • More than six decades of advocacy, research, and scientific papers
  • 52 National Solar Conferences and counting
  • 36 years of Solar Today magazine issues
  • 17 volumes of Advances in Solar Energy
  • Countless policy reports commissioned by ASES
  • 25 years of the National Solar Tour
  • The prevalence of solar and renewable energy businesses, events, and media that has erupted over the past decade

Today, ASES is steadfastly focused on the goal of achieving 100% renewable energy and sustainable living for the benefit of all life on Earth. The viability of a sustainable global economy powered by renewable sources is proving itself around the globe and redefining human potential. ASES recognizes the opportunities in the challenges we face and invites you to help make a difference at a time when it matters most.

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