Over the last couple of years solar energy and, as a result, the solar panel industry has taken off. This newfound popularity has been driven by the increased awareness of the numerous benefits that this means of producing energy has to offer.
That being said, not everyone is conscious of or understands the current hype surrounding this topic. So let’s take a look at 10 interesting facts about solar panels that should make it clear why solar energy is the way forward.
10 Interesting Solar Panel Facts
1. Solar Panels Have Been Around For A While
The production of solar energy relies on creating an electric current using the sun’s rays. This process is known as the photovoltaic effect and was discovered by Alexandre Edmond Becquerel in 1839.
But when were solar panels invented? With the use of this photovoltaic effect, in 1941, the first solar panel cell was invented by Russel Ohl. Following this, in 1954, Bell Laboratories built and sold the first commercial solar panel.
2. Solar Panels Produce Solar Energy
Solar panels work by capturing the energy given off by the rays of the sun and converting this into the electricity that we use in our homes. This form of energy, produced as a result of this solar panel energy transformation process, is known as solar energy.
Solar energy is an alternative source of energy to fossil fuels as it’s a fully-renewable and inexhaustible energy source. It has no negative impact on the environment as no pollution is produced during this process nor are any non-renewable resources depleted as a result hereof.
By using solar energy as an alternative to fossil fuels, we can prevent up to 35 tons of carbon dioxide from being given off into the atmosphere and save up to 75 million barrels of oil each year. These are the top environmental benefits of solar panels.
3. Solar Panels Don’t Need Direct Sunlight to Produce Power
Solar panels capture different segments of the sun’s spectrum of light. So, even if it’s an overcast day, the cells of the solar panel still capture and absorb the light sifting through the clouds.
Different weather conditions do, however, have varying effects on the solar energy output of your solar panel. The weather conditions that are prone to reduce the amount of direct sunlight available for your solar panel to capture are clouds, rain (rain clouds), and snow.
In these conditions, the solar energy output of your solar panel is reduced by at least 50%. In other words, the output of your solar panel will be half of what it is when exposed to direct sunlight.
4. Solar Panels Pay for Themselves
Currently, the cost of grid electricity persistently increases while the cost of solar energy and solar panel installation gradually decreases. As a result, it is understandable that the notion of solar energy’s “break-even point” has started to draw more and more attention.
Although the initial installation price of such a solar power system might be quite hefty, in the long run, the amount you save by not having to purchase grid electricity will not only cover but also exceed this installation price. The average homeowner will break even within approximately eight years. In states that have higher utility prices, this break-even point could even be as low as three to four years.
Furthermore, in the U.S. you could qualify for a 30% tax deduction if you buy and own a solar panel. Some states even allow you to make an income off the excess energy your solar panels produce by selling any surplus energy produced back to the grid.
5. Solar Energy is the Cheapest Source of Energy
The price of installing solar panels starts at around $1.65 per watt. This easily surpasses the affordability of any other energy sources such as wind or fossil fuels.
Furthermore, in Dubai, commercial solar energy providers sell solar energy for as little as $0.029 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). If these prices were to be employed in the U.S., then solar energy would be the cheapest of all the available energy sources on the U.S. energy market by far. This is because the cheapest of the fossil fuels, natural gas, goes for between $0.42 and $0.78 per kWh here.
6. Solar Energy is the Most Abundant Source of Energy
Approximately 173,000 terawatts (TW) of solar energy hits the surface of the earth on a continuous basis. This is more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use. In other words, there is enough solar energy hitting the earth at once to meet all of humanity’s energy requirements for a whole year.
Therefore, if we can maximize how much of the earth’s surface is covered in solar panels to absorb the sun’s energy, we would never have to use non-renewable energy sources, like fossil fuels, again. As such, it’s clear that solar energy is by far the world’s most abundant source of power.
7. Solar Energy is the Quickest Source of Energy to Deploy
Another one of the advantages of solar panels is that, in situations where natural or man-made disasters occur, leading to a region- or nation-wide outage of power, solar energy is the electricity source that can be built and repaired in the shortest time.
Leading solar power companies are able to install reasonably sized solar power farms that can store energy on an island within a couple of weeks. There’s no way that any other energy facility, using either renewable or non-renewable sources, could be organized as quickly and effectively.
8. Solar Panels Can Be Used Power Entire Communities
Although individual systems of producing solar energy are the general point of departure, there are also community solar systems.
Many large utility providers are now installing large solar farms from which communities of hundreds and even thousands of households can draw solar power. Such solar farms can most commonly be seen in states such as California, Colorado, Minnesota, New York, and Massachusetts.
9. Solar Panels Can Power Airplanes
It’s by no means breaking news that solar energy via the use of solar panels has been used and continues to be used to power cars, trains, and even space stations. A little-known fact, however, is that it has also been harnessed to power airplanes.
In 2016, Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard showcased the boundless potential of solar energy when he flew the Solar Impulse II, an aircraft fueled only by solar energy and no other additional power sources, around the world successfully.
10. Solar Energy is Becoming Increasingly Popular in the U.S.
The number of solar panels that have been installed across the U.S. is currently 23 times higher than it was in 2014. This is because the awareness and understanding of the benefits of installing solar panels have increased. Furthermore, the prices of these installations have decreased to accommodate the high demand for this energy source, and so, more Americans have realized the potential this energy source has to offer.
At the beginning of 2019, the U.S. crossed the 2 million solar systems installed mark, only three years after reaching the 1 million installation milestone, which initially took 40 years to reach. The current projections predict that by 2030 the solar energy market will have quadrupled in size.
For these reasons, it should be obvious why the U.S. is home to the third-largest solar market in the world, the largest being in China.
The facts above are a mere drop in the ocean of knowledge and benefits that this field of energy production has to offer, but by now it should be clear that solar energy and the use of solar panels is definitely the way of the future.
This is because it’s not only an efficient way of producing energy but a way in which both the consumer and the environment’s best interests are ultimately upheld.
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