20 Facts About Solar Energy That Might Surprise You

Solar energy is one of the most trending topics today. The world is moving quickly towards greener energy. Every day we get to hear about solar-powered devices, houses, airplanes (Yes, you heard us: airplanes!), and much more. With this, you might also be a little curious about the new star in the energy business. Well, worry no longer! We have gathered the top 20 facts about solar energy for you.

1. Solar Energy Costs Have Fallen by 99% Since 1977

Initially, the cost of solar installation used to be around $8/watt and above. However, less than a decade later, the prices have been reduced to only $3/watt with an estimation to become even cheaper in the upcoming years.

2. The Concept of Solar Energy Dates Back to the 7th Century

The concept of magnifying the sun’s rays to create fire dates back to the 7th century. There are traces of solar energy usage throughout history even though the solar panels themselves came into existence much later.

3. The First Solar Cell Was Invented in 1954

While the concept of photovoltaic effect dates back to 1839, the first silicon solar cell was built by Bell Laboratories in 1954. It marked the beginning of a cleaner and greener energy which has continued to grow ever since.

4. The Oil Crisis of 1970 Helped Push Solar Energy into the Forefront

The oil crisis helped people realize that relying solely upon fossil fuels was not a sustainable way to go. This realization propelled the research into alternative and long-lasting sources of energy, such as solar and wind energy.

5. We are Receiving Around 1366 watts of Direct Solar Radiation Per Square Meter

Solar energy is the most readily available form of energy on earth. Nearly 173,000 terawatts of solar energy are continuously hitting the earth’s surface.

6. Solar Energy Plants Can Last up to 40 Years and Above

Since the photovoltaic systems require no fuel and minimum maintenance, these cells can last between 25 to 40 years. These energy plants can thus be a great long-term investment.

7. China is Leading the World in Solar Energy

China has been leading the world in terms of solar installations since as early as 2013. In 2015, it was noted as the world’s largest producer of photovoltaic power. Similarly, in 2018, China held the world record for the largest operational solar project with its 1547 MW capacity.

8. Solar Panels Does Not Need Direct Sunlight to Work

The top concern with solar energy is usually about what happens on cloudy days or how efficient these lights can be during the night. However, with capable battery backup, this energy can be stored excellently. Moreover, these solar panels can still collect solar energy during cloudy days.

9. Solar Energy is Increasingly Versatile

The growing demand for green energy, coupled with increasing technological advancements, has made great leaps for solar energy. We can now find solar-powered water-heaters, floodlights, motion-detectors, solar lights, attic fans, pool covers, and much more. As solar energy grows more and more versatile, now we can find a solar-powered version of nearly every electrical appliance.

10. Creating Salt from Seawater is One of the Oldest Uses of Solar Energy

This method has been useful in treating wastewater for a very long time without using any electricity or chemicals.

11. Many Countries Use Solar Energy to Power their Space Mission

Solar energy has been utilized in the space sector since as early as 1950. The space industry has been harnessing solar energy to power their spaceships. The first artificial earth satellite Vanguard 1 still remains the oldest manmade satellite in orbit and was powered by solar cells.

12. By 2019, Over 2 Million Solar Systems were Installed in the USA

It took the solar industry nearly 40 years to get to 1 million installations. But the next million milestones were reached within just the next three years. Currently, it aims to hit 4 million installations by 2023.

13. California is Leading the USA in Terms of Solar Energy

In fact, California is home to the largest solar power plant in the world, the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, covering over 1000 acres. This plant has been active since 2014 and now has a gross capacity of 392 megawatts (MW). In 2017 alone, the state generated 20,163 MW of solar energy.

14. Solar Panels are Not Just Low-Maintenance but Need Next to No Maintainance

These panels are built to last for many years and only require occasional cleaning. The batteries don’t need to be replaced or serviced and can serve you for a long time.

15. A Fully Solar-Powered Airplane Already Took an Around-the-World Flight in 2016

In early 2016, the Solar Impulse 2 flew a plane powered solely by solar energy across the world. A Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard took flight from Abu Dhabi and made headlines regarding the potential of solar energy.

16. The Concept of Community Solar Power Exists

Many homeowners refrain from installing solar panels as they might be a hassle. However, since 2019 the concept of community solar power has begun. The idea is to install massive solar farms in one location in order to benefit an entire community. This idea has been most popular in four states, namely, California, Colorado. Minnesota and Massachusetts.

17. A fully Solar-Powered Home can Reduce CO2 Emissions by 100 Tons Within Just 30 Years

We are all aware that solar energy is clean energy but often forget to ask the exact numbers. With the use of solar energy, you are not adding any pollution into the environment, and simply by reducing the emissions generally produced, you can reduce your carbon footprint by quite a lot.

18. Solar Energy Pays for Itself in the Long Run

The initial investment is always a point of concern for potential buyers. However, when the overall lifespan of a solar panel is considered that too with next to no operational costs, solar energy actually pays for itself.

The average electricity bill in an American household is around $1300 annually. This can be reduced to a nearly negligible amount with a full implementation of solar power. Moreover, there are many incentives that different states provide in order to encourage solar energy usage, such as a 30% tax break.

19. The Switch to Solar Energy is Paramount to Meet Climate Goals

According to the report by the International Energy Agency, the continuous growth in the field of solar energy is necessary to limit global warming to 2°C.

20. Solar Panels Can Now Offer Much More than 20% Efficiency

Up until five years ago, solar panels boasted of a 17-18% efficiency. But as of 2019, companies like Tesla, SunPower, and Panasonic have started offering solar panels with up to 23% efficiency.