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I know one way or another you’ve heard of renewable energy. Renewable energy is energy that comes from a natural source and can be used continuously without depletion.
In other words, the source of energy can’t run out. It is often referred to as clean energy since it comes from sources that naturally refill. These renewable energies include solar energy from the sun, wind energy, geothermal energy from the earth’s heat, and hydropower from moving water.
In the past few years, many countries have shifted to using renewable energy since it is cheap and environmentally friendly. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has estimated that almost 90% of the world’s electricity will come from renewable energy by 2050.
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According to IRENA, by the end of 2021, the world added almost 257 Gigawatts (GW) of renewables thus increasing the renewable power stock by 9.1%.
>> Related reading: Pros And Cons Of Solar Energy- How Good Is Solar Energy
Solar energy is energy composed of light and heat in the form of electromagnetic radiation that comes from the sun. With current technological developments, this energy can be converted to thermal and electrical energy using different forms of technology including:
- Photovoltaic energy – this involves converting sunlight energy to electricity which can be used to power business as well as road signs and streetlights on your way home.
- Solar heating and coding- this refers to the use of concentrated solar power (CSP) from the sun for water heating.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in the latest edition of Renewable Capacity Statistics, solar power alone accounted for more than half of the renewable additions with a record of 133 Gigawatts (GW) followed by wind energy.
Now with that information in mind, let us look at some facts you didn’t know about solar energy.
Over the past years, solar energy has proven its value and its use has skyrocketed around the world. This is because it is not only cheap and readily available but is also a clean source of energy. Each day, the future for this type of energy seems brighter but some people are yet to know about solar energy.
>> Related Reading: 7 Applications Of Solar Energy
Today we look at 30 facts about solar energy you didn’t know.
1. Solar Energy is the Most Abundant Source of Energy on Earth
Solar energy comes from the sun, so it is here to stay. The amount of energy produced by the sun is so great that only an hour of the radiation that reaches the earth’s surface is enough to meet all the demands of human energy consumption.
Thus, with the right technology in place, we can harness this energy to produce electricity and other forms of energy. In addition, we can depend on this energy for our entire life and end the use of fossil fuels which pollute the environment.
2. Solar is the Fastest Growing and Most Popular Form of Energy Source
In 2019, solar energy rose to 1.11% as compared to 0.06% in 2010. It has since been growing and in 2020 global power rose by 22% due to continued installations of solar systems.
For example, in the US alone, more than 2 million solar systems were installed by the end of 2019. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) predicts that by 2050 most countries will have adopted renewable forms of producing electricity, and solar energy will lead in this.
3. Solar Energy improves World Health
Solar energy is also referred to as clean energy. This is because, in the process of solar power generation, very minimal greenhouse gas emissions are produced.
In a solar life cycle that includes the production of solar panel materials, the emissions of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour are between 0.07 and 0.18 pounds. Thus, for a range of 30 years, the production of solar panel systems can reduce more than 100 tons of carbon dioxide pollution.
4. Solar Energy is the Cheapest Source of Energy
Since 2008, the cost of solar panels has been reduced drastically. For example, in 2016, it only cost $1.65 per watt to install a new solar electricity system. According to IRENA, solar power is the cheapest source of energy as per the 2020 report.
Many countries are adopting solar technology since it is cheap compared to other sources of energy in terms of price and installation.
5. A Solar Power Plant Can Last 40 Years or More
Solar energy can be produced by solar power plants that contain solar panels within their infrastructure. This infrastructure is not only valuable but it can last more than 40 years.
The panels within the infrastructure can be improved for greater performance when they are replaced with new ones. This is very cheap and an efficient way to lengthen a solar power plant’s lifespan.
6. China’s Solar Power Capacity is the Fastest Growing in the World
China has become a big fish when it comes to solar energy capacity and installation. In 2017, China installed 24.4 GW in the first half.
Further, it is estimated that China will register the highest residential solar capacity in the world by 2024. This will contribute much to China’s pledge to reduce carbon contribution by 2060.
7. In the USA, California is the Star in Solar Energy
As of 2022, California has continued to be the leader in the use of solar energy in the US compared to other states. According to Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), as of 2016, a great percentage (about 14%) of the electricity comes from California solar installations.
Further, California’s solar PV energy accounts for about 32% of the total nation’s solar electricity production.
8. Solar Energy Can Fuel Airplanes
Solar energy goes beyond just using it to power electric vehicles (EVs), trains, or even for home electricity purposes. More and more people are now traveling around the world in planes that are solar powered with no other power source except solar energy.
9. Solar Power is Free of Noise Pollution
When it comes to energy production, one of the major modern problems we have is noise pollution. This affects both animals as well as human beings.
However, solar energy is quiet compared to other sources of energy, as there are no moving parts involved, nor does it require fuel to produce power. This makes it perfect for home installation as it is free of noise pollution.
10. Solar Panels Do Not Need Direct Sunlight to Produce Light
Yes, that’s right. Although solar panels are less efficient in cloudy conditions, this does not mean that they are totally ineffective.
Solar panels can capture different parts of the sun’s rays reflected from the sky and utilize that to produce power. In fact, solar panels are 40% efficient on a cloudy day.
11. The First use of Photovoltaic (PV) was in 1839
Alexandre Edmond Becquerel a French scientist recognized the Photovoltaic effect in 1839. The photovoltaic (PV) effect is the ability to convert sunrays to an electric current.
Thereafter, in 1941, Russell Ohl invented the first solar panel cell which was later first put out in 1954 by Bell Laboratories for sale.
12. Solar Energy Can Pay for Itself and Increase Your Home Value
One more amazing fact about solar energy is that once you switch to solar energy, you will no longer have to pay for heating or electric bills.
What one saves on electricity, which amounts to about $1300 per household, is enough to pay for the initial solar energy system installation. Besides, solar energy comes with tax breaks and rebates after installation. As such, its value keeps on increasing without causing you to pay higher taxes.
13. Solar Panels Are Maintenance Free
If there is no severe natural disaster, then you should not worry about the state of your solar panels. This is because there is no recurring cost once installed and the maintenance costs are very minimal. This makes them cheap as they last longer compared to other energy sources.
14. Solar Panels Provide Power 24/7
One of the biggest worries homeowners and businesses may have about solar panels is that power may run out at night.
Thanks to battery capacity improvement, you can attach a battery to your solar panel system and access electricity through it. The battery collects the excess power during the day and stores it for later use.
15. Solar Panels Work Better During Winter
People think that the colder season means less effectiveness for solar panels. The answer is No. In reality, they work better in winter. Solar panels can use the sun’s reflected light from the snow to produce electricity.
Further, the solar panels in snow-prone areas are angled so that snow will fall off them to avoid covering the panels and to maximize utilization of the light.
16. The Cost of Solar Panels Has Gone Down 99% since 1977
As compared to $77 per watt in 1977, the cost is now at $0.23 per watt according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Q3 2017 Solar Market Insight Report. Further, an assembled module cost $0.39 per watt.
17. Horticulture And Agriculture Also Use Solar Energy
For photosynthesis to take place, green plants require solar energy transformed into chemical energy for their production.
Horticulture and agriculture ventures convert solar radiation or light into heat energy through the greenhouses to support certain crops.
18. Solar Energy Can Power Your Entire Home
With Solar panels installed in your home, you are fully sorted when it comes to powering lighting, water heaters, space heaters as well as running other electric appliances. It is not only the most affordable but also the safest when it comes to the environment.
19. The Space Industry Was the Sole User of Solar Energy
The space sector was the first to use renewable technologies. They used solar energy to power their spaceships early in the 1950s. The first artificial satellite, Vanguard 1, which has traveled more than 6 billion miles, is solely powered by solar cells. In fact, the International Space Station is still using solar energy to run its operation.
20. Solar Panels in The United States Face South
Did you know that in the United States solar panels face south? For solar panels to absorb more energy in the Northern Hemisphere, they should be facing south. This is because the sun will be along the southern part of the sky. The same concept applies to those in Southern Hemisphere which should be facing the North.
21. Solar Panels Are More Efficient Now Than Ever
According to The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the efficiency of most solar panels that were sold in 2020 was between 10% and 20%. This is as opposed to only 6% efficiency of the first silicon solar panels. And in the 21st century, efficiency continues to increase with no sign of slowing down.
22. One Can Charge Electric Vehicles with Solar Panels
Another reason to install solar panels at home is the fact that they can charge your electric car. However, before installation, one should consider how much electricity your car might use. A small array of about 10 solar panels has enough power to charge your vehicle’s battery.
23. Solar Energy Enhances Local Job Creation
Renewable energy has continued to grow immensely since International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) initiated its annual review. According to IRENA, in the 2022 edition, there have been 12.7 million jobs created in renewable energy as of 2021.
With 4.3 million of these jobs coming from solar photovoltaic (PV), the fastest growing sector.
24. Every Hour About 100,000 Solar Panels Are Installed Worldwide
According to the World Economic Forum data from US Energy Information Administration (EIA), there has been a 34% rise in residential solar power installation. This is evidence that the demand for solar panel installations is booming. As such, solar power companies install about 100,000 solar panels every hour.
25. Solar Energy Can Purify Contaminated Water to Make it Potable
The combination of heat and UV light can be used to purify contaminated water and depending on the conditions, it can take 2-6 hours for the water to be free of pathogenic materials. This can be done using tank-like devices called solar stills that uses the sun to transform dirty or salty water into safe drinking water.
26. Solar Panels Can Be Used to Power Space Crafts
The first industry to use solar energy was the space industry. They have since continued to power their spacecrafts using solar panels. Big companies like NASA have also used solar-powered satellites to explore the planet Mars.
27. Solar Technology is Versatile
Solar energy is making its way into almost all aspects of life. From being installed in different types of buildings to being used in spacecraft and satellites.
Moreover, car and boat industries are also shifting to solar energy and they will soon adopt the technology fully. Empty areas like the Mojave Desert in California are being used to host solar farms.
28. Monocrystalline Is the Most Efficient Material for Manufacturing Solar Panels
Monocrystalline solar panels are more efficient compared to Polycrystalline panels. This is because they are cut from a single source of silicon with high purity like a semiconductor. There are solar panels that contain monocrystalline cells that can draw out the maximum amount of energy in areas of low sunlight.
29. India Aims to Be a Global Leader in Solar Energy
India aims to increase energy from renewable sources by 2030 to 50%. They are planning to install 100GW of solar power plants as well as decentralize solar power. This will help meet the country’s demand for energy.
30. Weight of Solar Panels Is Minuscule
When it comes to the weight of solar panels, it varies between different solar manufacturers. And further, it depends on whether you are using monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or thin film solar panels. As such, the weight of a residential solar panel is around 40 pounds containing at least 60 solar cells.
While for commercial solar panels, their weight is around 50 pounds with around 72 solar cells. Since the weight of the panels is low, you don’t need to worry about whether your roof can hold up.
These few facts about solar energy show you how different countries and the whole world are embracing renewable sources of energy. In addition to being the best source of energy, solar energy is cheap and environmentally friendly.
We can expect many improvements that come with the usage of renewable energy, and we should embrace the changes for a better world. This has led to much growth in solar energy in the past few years, and it looks like this trend will continue in the future.
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