With the rising costs of utility bills, more home and business owners are making a significant decision to switch to solar power. But, besides saving you money on your electric bill, there are other facts about solar panels that many are not aware of.
For one, solar energy is an abundant energy source and an affordable alternative to fossil fuels. They can be installed in your home or business to provide power, and many tax incentives and rebates are available to help offset the installation cost. If you’re interested to learn more about solar panels, below are 29 things you likely don’t know yet.
I recommend reading these facts from top to bottom but, if a specific topic catches your attention, feel free to tap on any of the bullets below:
- NASA and solar energy
- Environmental facts about solar energy
- The world’s solar farms
- Breakthroughs in solar energy throughout the years
- The future of solar energy
1. NASA and Solar Energy
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration first used solar energy in 1958 to power Vanguard 1, the fourth artificial Earth-orbiting satellite to be successfully launched.
NASA taking advantage of solar power production made a lot of sense since solar radiation is readily available in space where no other sources of electricity are available.
Fast forward to today, solar technology is still being used as the primary energy source of power for space missions. NASA continuously develops solar technologies for space-based energy systems for human and robotic spacecraft missions.
NASA researchers are pushing boundaries as they keep on developing new materials to boost solar energy system performance. The new technologies developed by NASA are not only used in space-based applications but are also beneficial to Earth-based projects. They help lower the cost of solar energy with more efficient solar panel systems.
Environmental Facts About Solar Energy
2. The sun is a powerful and abundant energy source.
On any given day, 173,000 terawatts of solar energy constantly strike the Earth even during inclement weather.
The sun is a source of limitless energy that will never run out. It produces power sufficient enough to accommodate the world’s energy needs.
Recommended: 8 environmental benefits of using solar energy
3. One hour of sunlight equates to one year’s worth of Earth’s annual consumption.
The Earth absorbs 70% of solar energy hitting the earth and it is equivalent to an estimated 3.85 million exajoules. That’s enough solar electricity to power the world for an entire year!
4. The sun is a clean and renewable source that does not produce any pollution when generating electricity.
When using solar panels for electricity generation, no toxic pollution and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide or methane are emitted into the atmosphere.
A home that runs on solar energy as an electricity source can significantly reduce pollution by cutting down CO2 emissions by at least 100 tons within 30 years.
5. With proper maintenance, solar power plants can last more than 40 years.
Solar panels can perform as optimally as possible with periodic cleaning and maintenance.
An average solar panel system has impressive durability that can last 25-40 years. Many that were installed as early as the 1980s are still working at the expected capacity!
Recommended: How to clean solar panels
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6. The cost of solar power is cheaper than traditional fossil fuel sources.
Solar power is more economical than the standard electricity sourced from fossil fuels.
Aside from reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to seven tonnes per year, solar energy users save as much as $1500 in savings on their annual energy bills.
Recommended: How much money do you save with solar panels?
Facts about The World’s Solar Farms
7. Golmud Solar Park — China
The Golmud Solar Park in China is currently the world’s largest solar farm with an astounding capacity of 2.8 GW.
This monumental site has almost seven million solar panels that harness solar energy that could power 100 million LED light bulbs.
China is ambitiously targeting the solar park to meet the 16 GW goal in the next five to six years.
8. Bhadla Solar Park — India
With a 0.1 GW difference from Golmud Solar Park, the massive solar park in India has an astounding capacity of 2.7 GW and encompasses an area of roughly 45 km².
Bhadla Solar Park is situated in the Rajasthan region which receives 5.72 kWh per m² per day of solar irradiation on average making it a perfect location for solar power system generation.
Multiple corporations auctioning offset volumes of solar capacity have commissioned this solar farm.
9. Pavagada Solar Park — India
Having sunny conditions with direct sunlight hitting the country almost all year round, India is one of the most suitable locations for solar farms. Also known as Shakti Sthala, Pavagada Solar Park is located in Pavagada, Tumkur district.
With a massive 53 km² area, it has an astonishing capacity of 2.05 GW, serving as a renewable and clean energy source for Indian citizens.
India has allotted $2.1 billion for the development of this solar park as part of its initiative to create projects for renewable energy advancement.
10. Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park — UAE
Even a nation that’s well-known for its immense oil reserve did not want to miss out on decreasing its carbon footprint by investing in the solar power industry.
With an area of 76 km², the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is relatively larger in area size compared to other solar farms. However, despite its size, it has a current capacity of 1.63 GW yet it’s being targeted to reach 5 GW by 2030.
MBR is relatively more expensive than other farms on this list. Its multi-phase construction costs $13.6 billion. The solar park powers 270,000 homes and offsets an estimated 1.4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.
11. Benban Solar Park — Egypt
Africa’s largest solar farm is currently the fifth largest in the world. Benban Solar Park has an area of 37.2km² and is situated in the town of Daraw Markaz of Upper Egypt.
The solar park produces power with an estimated 1.61 GW of pollution-free electricity and generates roughly 6.3 kWh per m2 per day powering hundreds of thousands of Egyptian households.
It costs $4 billion and is part of Egypt’s Nubian Suns Feed-In Tariff initiative to encourage businesses in investing on renewable energy programs.
Solar Energy Breakthroughs Throughout The Years
Facts #12-17: Discovery of Solar Energy in the 1800s
Edmond Becquerel, a French scientist discovered the solar photovoltaic effect when he observed that electrons in an excited state create a current when moving through a conduction band.
August Mouchet, a French mathematician, proposed an idea for solar-powered steam engines. Decades later, he and his assistant Abel Pifre designed the first solar power engine. Modern parabolic dish collectors originated from these engines.
Willoughby Smith, who was an English electrical engineer, discovered the photoconductivity of the element selenium. This discovery led to the invention of solar cells, including those used in the earliest television systems.
William Grylls Adams and his student Richard Evans Day inspected the electrical properties of Selenium when exposed to light.
They demonstrated that a solid material could utilize light to generate electricity without requiring heat or moving parts.
The first working selenium solar cells were invented by Charles Edgar Fritts.
He laminated the semiconductor material selenium with a remarkably thin layer of gold to develop a cell with 1% electrical efficiency.
Through the discovery of Fritt’s selenium cells, the world’s first rooftop solar array was installed on a rooftop in New York City.
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Edward Weston, the founder of Weston Electric Light Co. of Newark, New Jersey, submitted a patent for solar cells.
On his patent, he mentioned his goal, ” to transform radiant energy derived from the sun into electrical energy, or through electrical energy into mechanical energy.”
Facts #18-26: Solar Energy Development through the 1900s
The photovoltaic effect started to attract scientific attention when Albert Einstein wrote his 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect: “On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light”.
He postulated that electrons are discharged when light hits a material. He also opposed the wave
A Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to Albert Einstein for his notable work on the photoelectric effect.
The photoelectric effect is highly significant in the solar energy industry as it is applied to solar cells and photocells.
In an attempt to develop a power source for telephone systems in far-flung humid locations, a group of scientists working at Bell Laboratories, New Jersey developed a cell from Silicon.
Since dry batteries deteriorate quickly, Engineer Daryl Chapin, chemist Calvin Fuller, and physicist Gerald Pearson examined alternative renewable energy sources and established solar power as the most reliable.
A year after the first cell was discovered from Silicon, Bell Labs devised the first usable solar cell composed of silicon slices with up to 6% efficiency.
It was a great advancement from the previous solar cells. It was demonstrated to power a toy Ferris wheel and a solar-powered radio transmitter.
The first photovoltaic cells in space were used in the space industry on the United States space satellite, Vanguard 1.
The small array of solar panel cells was utilized to power the satellite’s radios.
In that same year, it was used to successfully power satellites such as Explorer III, Vanguard II, and Sputnik-3, all launched with photovoltaic systems on board.
Hoffman Electronics made major developments in photovoltaic efficiency by creating a solar cell with 14 % efficiency.
They also popularized the use of grid contact to decrease the cell’s resistance.
Solar cells were used to power Telstar 1, the world’s first active communication satellite.
It was devised by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) to analyze features of communications via space.
On December 15, 1982, Arco Solar Inc established the first photovoltaic megawatt-scale solar park in Hesperia, California.
This power station can produce an electrical power of one megawatt or one kWH at full capacity which can power 100,000 batteries generating 5.2 megawatts.
By this year solar energy has greatly developed since its first discovery. There are cars powered by solar energy, communication satellites, spacecraft, and even commercial buildings.
During the same year, University in New South Wales noted a new solar efficiency record of 20 percent.
Facts #27-29: Recent Advancement in Solar Energy in Australia in the 2000s
In an attempt to boost the extensive renewable energy advancement and gain energy independence, Australia proposed a Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET). The scheme will run until 2020 with 9,500 GWh of the new generation.
This means that as a world-leader country, Australia’s renewable generation will be doubled since 1997, and electricity production will rise by up to 4%.
To advocate the production of renewable energy (RE), the first German Feed-IN Tariff EEG (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz) was amended in 2000.
The EEG has been remarkably successful in its role in significantly improving the share of free energy in the electricity mix and reducing air pollution due to fewer emissions of greenhouse gasses.
On September 2019, Clean Energy Regulator reported that Australia achieved its Large-scale Renewable Energy Target of 33,000-gigawatt hours of additional renewable energy generation.
This is an impressive accomplishment given that the goal should be met by 2020 Australia met the target a year earlier and more than half of the target gas was in early 2017.
Conclusion: The Future of Solar Energy
Solar energy is on the rise, and it’s only going to continue to grow in popularity across the globe as people become more aware of its benefits. Not only does solar power help reduce greenhouse gas emissions but is a reliable source of energy that can save you money in the long run.
Now, if you’re ready to take the next step, we can get you 3 FREE quotes from our network of pre-vetted installers right away. We trust them with our own system, so you can be sure that they’re honest and skilled professionals who won’t rip you off.