It can be easy to think you know everything about solar energy. After all, how complicated can it be? Time to test your knowledge. Here are 7 facts about solar energy that we’re sure you haven’t heard before.
Firstly, how does solar power work?
In short, solar technologies convert sunlight into electric energy through either photovoltaic panels or through mirrors that concentrate solar radiation. This energy can then be used to generate electricity or be store in thermal storage or batteries.
- Solar energy is the most abundant energy source on earth
One of the many benefits of solar power is that it is abundant. This source of energy is renewable and will never run out as a result of overuse. The Earth received enough solar energy from the sun to meet the power needs of people across the globe for an entire year.
Bonus point: it’s cheaper than traditional fossil fuels. Natural gas is actually the cheapest option for fossil fuel. Google external wall insultation near me if you’re interested in saving even more money.
- The first solar panel cell was invented in 1941
Russel Ohl, an American inventor, patented the world’s first silicon solar cell in 1941. His invention led to the production of the first solar panel in 1954 by Bell Laboratories, the company whose payroll Ohl was under.
- Solar panels last for decades
As a rule, solar panels last for about 25-30 years. Energy production declines by what manufacturers consider to be a significant amount after 25 years – they don’t just stop working.
- China is the world leader in producing solar energy
Within 25 years, China will have gone from having basically no solar panels to leading the world by a margin of more than 100%. Estimates from market intelligence business Wood Mackenzie sees China’s photovoltaic panel installations hit a cumulative total of 370 GWdc by 2024 – more than double that of the US at that point.
- Solar energy is the fastest energy source to deploy
When tragedy happens, no other source of electricity can be built or repaired as quickly as solar energy. When Puerto Rico suffered from hurricanes, small solar panel plants with energy storage capabilities were built on the island within a few weeks – something no other renewable energy facility could have done as quickly.
- Solar energy has been used to create salt from the seawater
In 2021, a desalination system was developed that can use solar energy to remove salt from seawater. The device consists of a titanium containing layer which is capable of absorbing solar energy. When the layer is floating on the sweater and is hit by sunlight it heats and vaporises the water – the water can be collected as freshwater.
- Every hour, more solar energy reaches the earth than humans use in a year
About 30% of this energy is then reflected back into space by the atmosphere. This is because clouds, night-time and the atmosphere is absent in space so satellite-based solar panels can transmit more energy than solar panels on earth can.