The solar industry has been rapidly growing over the last couple of years. This is largely due to three factors. The decrease in prices, increases in efficiency and the push for more renewable energy drive this growth. However, solar energy has a lot of interesting facts that will surprise you.
1. The Most Abundant Energy Source In the World Is Solar
You may already know this, but solar energy is the most abundant source in the world and it is not hard to understand why. The sun shines down on our planet every day. Anywhere the sun touches is energy that could be collected with a solar panel.
2. We Could Collect Enough Energy for an Entire Year in Just One Hour
If we could somehow manage to collect all of the sunlight that falls on earth for one hour, we would have enough energy to meet the demands of the entire planet for one year. Want an exact number? In just one hour, we could collect 430 quintillion Joules of energy. Not sure how big that number is? Let me show you: 430,000,000,000,000,000,000 Joules.
3. The Cost to Install Solar Has Fallen By 89% in the Last Decade
There are not many things that get cheaper over time, but solar energy has managed to do so. In just a decade, the price to install has fallen by more than 89% and it is expected to continue dropping. In fact, it is expected to continue this decrease until 2050!
4. Solar Panels Do Not Need Direct Sunlight
It is common for critics of solar energy to claim that all it takes is one cloudy day for the power to shut off. And while it is true that solar panels are not as efficient in an overcast environment, it doesn’t mean they don’t work. In reality, solar panels are still 40% efficient on a cloudy day.
5. 50% of New Energy in 2019 in the United States Came From Solar
Thousands of energy projects are undertaken every year, and 2019 made something very clear. Solar will play a major part in our country’s, as well as the world’s, energy generation. Over 50% of all new energy in the United States came from solar in 2019.
6. China Is the Solar Energy King
Solar energy in the United States gets a lot of attention, but the US only has a solar capacity of 71.3 GW. In reality, China is, by far, the world’s leader when it comes to solar energy. It has a staggering 200 GW capacity from its solar projects by the end of 2019, which dwarfs the US. Talk about crazy solar energy facts!
7. Solar Panels In the United States Face South
In the United States, and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, solar panels all face south. This is because the sun will always be along the southern part of the sky. As a result of this positioning, solar panels are able to absorb more energy. Of course, if you live in the southern hemisphere, then the panel should be facing North. The more you know.
8. Solar Plants Are Built to Last
Typically when a solar panel is placed, the power agreement you sign lasts between 20 and 25 years. However, the panels don’t magically stop working when that date is reached. In most cases, solar panels will be fully functional for twice as long.
Although, by that time, you may want to think about upgrading to newer panels for better efficiency.
9. Solar Is Cheaper Than Coal
Coal has dominated the energy market for decades, but it has fallen out of favor. One of the major reasons for this is its cost. It is more expensive than solar. In fact, 75% of US coal plants cost more than solar and wind energy and by 2025, all coal will be more expensive.
10. Solar Is The Quickest Energy Source You Can Deploy
In 2017, when Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria, the country was without power for weeks. It is a well-known fact that Tesla was able to set up solar panels to provide power to key places such as hospitals. This is because they are the quickest, easiest, and cheapest, energy generation you can set up.
11. Solar Farms…In Space
This may just be the most incredible solar energy facts on this list. China has plans to put a solar farm in space. If everything goes right, the world will have its first solar power station by 2050. While the plans are not public, it was theorized that an array of satellites covered with solar panels could generate 2,000 GW. The biggest solar farm on earth can generate 1.8 GW.
12. You Don’t Need A Solar Panel to Get Solar Energy
You may be thinking you need to actually install a solar panel on your home or business to reap the benefits of solar power. However, you would be wrong. This can be done by signing into a Community Solar project. This is basically a large area dedicated to solar energy that nearby residents and business owners can opt into.
13. Battery Capacity Improvements Mean Solar Energy 24/7
One of the biggest concerns a homeowner may have about installing a solar panel is what happens at night. There is no sun! While this was an issue in the past, it no longer is. Thanks to battery capacity improvements, excess energy your panels collect during the day can be stored and used when there is no sunlight available.
14. Solar Projects in the United States Are Growing Rapidly
It took 40 years for the United States to reach 1 million installs. In the following 3 years, the US has reached over 2 million. However, that’s not even the most impressive feat. By 2023, it is expected for the US to surpass 4 million installations. Growing rapidly may be an understatement with this technology.
15. Solar Panels Can Increase Your Home’s Value Without Increasing Taxes
It’s no secret, there are a lot of tax breaks when it comes to renewable energy sources. And solar energy is no slouch in this department. In many states, you can add solar panels to your home and increase its value while not increasing your taxes. Make sure to look for tax rebates in your state to maximize the financial benefits of solar energy.
16. Your Utility Will Pay You For Excess Energy
In most cases, homes cannot use all of the energy a solar panel provides, but don’t worry. The energy will not go to waste. In fact, it will end up in the grid and others will use it. And you will be able to sit back and collect the difference from your local utility. That is if they support putting power back into the grid.
17. California Pays Other States to Take Their Excess Solar Energy
California is by far the leader of solar power in the United States. In fact, it generates too much energy for its own good. When this happens, it can easily overload the power lines and end up doing more harm than good. To avoid this, California pays other states, mainly Arizona, to take the excessive amount of energy off their grid.
18. We Can Never Run Out of Solar Energy
Unlike fossil fuels, we can never run out of solar energy. In fact, it is largely thanks to the oil crisis of 1970 that many governments put resources into researching renewable energy sources. That is until our sun fizzles out. But when that happens, humanity will no longer be able to live on Earth. So its really not a problem.
19. Solar Power Will Get Stronger As More Use It
It is a well-known fact that pollution can block the sun’s rays from reaching solar panels. And much of the world’s pollution comes from burning fossil fuels. Therefore, if we all use solar panels and other renewable energy sources to get rid of high polluting fossil fuels, there will be more sunlight that reaches the panels. Thus, we will have even more solar power at our fingertips.
20. Solar Panels Can Get Really Hot
As you may expect for a piece of technology that is designed to harness the sun’s light, they can get hot. Most home panels will reach temperatures around 77 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they can handle being as warm as 149 degrees. That is definitely one of the hottest solar energy facts!
21. No Noise Pollution
One of the biggest modern problems is noise pollution. Just about everything we do or use makes noise and it can be quite damaging to both humans and animals. This is especially true when it comes to energy generation, which is exactly why we will not see wind turbines anywhere close to our homes.
However, when compared to other sources of energy, one big thing to take away is that solar energy is silent. Which makes it perfect for home installation.
22. Maintenance Is Free While Renting or Financing A Solar Panel
If you are concerned about something going wrong with your panels, don’t. When you lease or finance solar panels, free maintenance is baked into almost every contract. This means as a homeowner, you have nothing to worry about if something goes wrong.
23. Winter is Not a Problem for Solar
You may be thinking that the colder temperatures are going to mean less energy from your panels, but that is simply not true. In reality, solar panels actually work better in the winter. Sunlight is reflected by the white snow and helps the panels collect it.
However, if your panels are covered in snow, they will not collect anything. this is one reason why the panels are angled. The snow will actually fall off on its own!
24. Solar energy Has Been Used Since 700 BC
While our ancestors may not have had the technology that we do today, they were able to harness the sun’s energy. This was done by using a glass lens and reflective surfaces to start fires. It was extremely convenient due to technological limitations, which makes this one of the oldest solar energy facts.
25. Companies Love Solar Energy
To make themselves environmentally friendly and lower their own emissions, many large companies buy a lot of solar energy. Apple (393.3 MW), Amazon (329.8 MW), Target (242.4 MW), and Walmart (208.9 MW) are the four largest US companies to heavily invest in solar energy. Many of them also invest in wind as well.
26. Solar Energy is Responsible for 242,000 Jobs
Solar panels are not easy to install, maintain, or improve upon, but somehow it gets better every year. And this is largely thanks to everyone who is involved in the field. Solar energy is a growing field, and as the technology becomes more integral to our society, the number of jobs the field offers will increase dramatically.
27. Solar Panels Come In Many Different Designs
Everyone is always trying to look their best and homeowners are no different. They want their houses to look good. In the past, solar panels did not look very appealing. However, that is very different today. There are multiple designs to choose from when it comes to solar panels to help you find the perfect match for your home.
28. For the United States to Meet its Energy Demand, Only 0.6% of Land Must be Covered in Solar Panels
To say solar energy has potential is an understatement. With very small land commitments, countries can create all of the energy they would need from solar. And considering you can place the panels on just about anything, it’s surprising there is not more being done to promote solar.
These solar energy facts should make it clear that it is an incredible source of power that humanity is only beginning to harness. Each year, improvements are made that make the technology more affordable, efficient, and robust. Which has been a driving force behind the rapid growth of solar technology.
It cannot be said enough just how important it is for the world to rely on renewable energy sources. In fact, it is the only way the world can meet the Paris Agreements climate goals.
However, it will not be solar energy alone that does it. Wind energy is also growing rapidly, and together, the world will have a very viable and cheaper source of energy to use that does not emit toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.