In the year 1839, Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect, which explains how electricity can be generated from sun light. Although harnessing the power of the sun was initially discovered over a century ago, it wasn’t until the 1970’s that solar power became affordable enough for commercial use. This paved the way for the solar applications we see every single day, from common residential solar panels, to the 579 Mega-Watt Solar Star project located in the great state of California. This article is dedicated to little-known and interesting facts about solar energy.
#1. The earth currently receives roughly 174 Petawatts (one billion millions watts) of incoming solar radiation in the upper atmosphere. About 30% is reflected back to space, and the rest is absorbed by oceans, land masses and clouds. This paints a picture of how much free energy is truly available.
#2. Solar energy can be used for making brackish potable or saline water. Without using electricity or chemicals, waste water can be treated. Creating salt from ocean water is one of the oldest uses of solar energy.
#3. The Oil Crisis of 1970 demonstrated the delicate nature of fossil fuels as a source of energy. Paving the way for growth and detailed research into alternative and renewable energy technology.
#4. Solar energy produces zero pollution, has no negative environmental effects and is ecologically acceptable.
#5. As of the year 2016, the millionth solar system was installed in the United States. This took roughly 40 years for the Solar industry to reach this landmark. The forecasted timeline for the next million installations is expected to take place within the next two years. This is a great demonstration of where the future of solar power is headed.
#6. In early 2016, two pilots departed from Abu Dhabi in an aircraft known as the Solar Impulse II. On July 26th 2016, they completed the approximate 26,000-mile circumnavigation of the Earth, by a piloted fixed-wing aircraft, using only solar power!
#7. There are multiple sets of solar panels located on the International Space Station. These solar arrays produce more power than the station even requires at one time for station systems and experiments. They are even visible from Earth!
#8. The average household solar panel system can reduce pollution by 100 tons of CO2 in its lifetime. That includes the energy it took to produce the solar panels! This will be a major factor in improving future air quality and the fight against pollution.
#9. Photo Voltaic cells use sunlight, not heat to create electricity. Contrary to popular belief, higher temperatures actually lower the efficiency of PV cells. This is why it is recommended to install panels a few inches above the mounting surface to allow convective air flow to cool the panels down, increasing efficiently.
#10. Installing 5kW of solar panels to the average home can increase its value by close to $30,000 or more, depending on your location and the level of power production. You can also save up to 20% on your monthly electric bill, resulting in even more monetary value!
We hope you enjoyed these little-known facts about solar power. We certainly enjoyed putting them together and maybe even learned a thing or two in the process. On a side note, summer is officially here! Keep your eyes peeled for next week’s article and as always, we are just a phone call away (877-548-3387) and are happy to offer our expertise on all of your solar power needs.