Consumer interest in solar is growing rapidly – and it shows. The prevalence of solar installations soar every year. Around the world, solar panels can be seen on rooftops, farms, transit, and even floating on water. Decades of development and awareness has made clean energy stronger than ever. But, there’s still a lot that people don’t know. Here are 65 facts about solar to help you learn more about this exciting industry.
Fact #1: Solar power is the most abundant source of energy on the planet.5
Fact #2: More solar energy reaches Earth in one hour than the world uses all year.6
Fact #3: Sunlight takes approximately eight minutes to reach the Earth.7
Fact #4: About 30% of incoming solar radiation is reflected back into space and the rest is absorbed by clouds, oceans, and land.1
Fact #5: Solar energy has been used by plants and microorganisms since the beginning of time.3
Fact #6: Solar energy is the most widely used renewable energy source.1
Fact #7: 173,000 terawatts of solar energy hit the Earth continuously – that’s greater than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use.8
Fact #8: The first silicon solar cell was developed by Bell Laboratories in 1954.3
Fact #9: There are over 57 million square miles of land on Earth. In order to power the entire planet, we would need to install solar panels on just over 191,000 square miles.7
Fact #10: 1 megawatt (MW) of solar energy can power over 200 homes.5
Fact #11: The photovoltaic (PV) effect was discovered by French scientist Edmond Becquerel in 1839.3
Fact #12: Photovoltaic cells were first used in satellites and consumer electronics. The large-scale application of solar came much later.3
Fact #13: Solar-powered calculators were invented in 1978, and are likely the first way you used solar energy.7
Fact #14: Solar electricity is measured in watts. 1000 watts = 1 kilowatt (kW). 1000 kW = 1 megawatt (MW). 1000 MW = 1 gigawatt (GW). 1000 GW = 1 terawatt (TW). 1000 TW = 1 petawatt (PW).
Fact #15: When thinking about electricity demand, Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy.”9
Fact #16: Solar panels create electricity when the sun’s photons energize the electrons of silicon molecules within the solar cells.6
Fact #17: The International Space Station is entirely solar powered.2
Fact #18: Leonardo da Vinci was the first to predict large scale solar power.6
Fact #19: Photovoltaic solar panels are made of silicon, which is the second most abundant element on Earth after oxygen.7
Fact #20: Solar energy is generated as DC (direct current) power. Typically, solar panels are installed with an inverter to convert DC power to usable AC (alternating current) power.
Fact #21: “Space-based solar power” is the idea of harnessing solar power in space, where there is no night time or atmosphere, to capture more energy than solar panels on Earth.3
Fact #22: In the United States, southern facing solar panels perform best.6
Fact #23: Solar panels have no moving parts and require virtually no maintenance.1
Fact #24: China built a 250-acre solar farm in the shape of a panda.13
Fact #25: In 2015, solar accounted for only 1% of the world’s electricity generation.3
Fact #26: In 2019, 40% of all new electric capacity added to the grid came from solar.12
Fact #27: Solar panels can last for over 40 years.5
Fact #28: Contrary to popular belief, solar panels still work on cloudy days.6
Fact #29: Conventional solar panels can produce a range of 100 to 320 watts of electricity each. However, high performing solar panels can produce up to 400 watts per panel.
Fact #30: Many states and towns are mandating solar panels on all new buildings.
Fact #31: Solar energy produces no water pollution after installation.1
Fact #32: Solar can power your home at night if you add a battery.
Fact #33: In many parts of the world, solar is now cheaper than coal.3
Fact #34: The price of solar panels have reduced by 80% since 2008.4
Fact #35: Las Vegas, Nevada is the largest city to operate on 100% renewable energy, which is largely solar power.7
Fact #36: Burlington, Vermont was the first city in America to achieve 100% clean energy generation for its residents.7
Fact #37: Solar power does not create any noise while producing energy.1
Fact #38: Solar energy is the quickest solution to energy in times of crisis.1
Fact #39: Solar panels actually perform more efficiently in cooler temperatures.
Fact #40: Thermal solar panels heat water with the sun’s warmth, while photovoltaic (PV) solar panels produce electricity with the sun’s light.
Fact #41: Monocrystalline solar panels are darker in color and more efficient than polycrystalline panels, which are generally more blue in appearance.
Fact #42: Most solar panels are rigid, although flexible solar panels are often used for recreational vehicles or small-scale energy production.19
Fact #43: Solar technology can even be applied to paint.3
Fact #44: Solar energy is the fastest growing energy sector in the world. Solar demand is currently at an all-time high.8
Fact #45: Old coal mines are now being converted into solar power plants.17
Fact #46: Increased demand for solar is leading to a greater demand for electric vehicles (EVs).
Fact #47: The solar industry is creating jobs five times faster than the job market.10
Fact #48: In 2017, renewable energy jobs, including solar, overtook the number of jobs related to fossil fuels.10
Fact #49: A home with solar panels reduces its 30-year carbon footprint by 100 tons.7
Fact #50: Over 2 million solar systems have been installed in the United States.
Fact #51: Sheep are being used for vegetation maintenance on solar farms to reduce operations costs.15
Fact #52: Solar panels are exempt from property taxes in many states including Massachusetts and increase the value of a home more than a complete kitchen remodel.7
Fact #53: Homes with solar panels sell for approximately 4.1% more than homes without.14
Fact #54: Solar energy is free, but solar panels cost money. However, most people still save money every month paying for panels rather than electricity from the grid.
Fact #55: Most customers rent or finance their solar panels.
Fact #56: Popular music festivals around the world are embracing solar, geothermal, and other natural sources of power.16
Fact #57: Many US states allow solar owners to sell back excess power to the grid, which is called net metering.
Fact #58: Adding solar panels to your home or business lowers your electricity bills significantly. In most cases, you’ll even receive incentives for the energy your system produces.
Fact #59: China is currently the global leader in installed solar energy capacity.5
Fact #60: In 2016, Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard flew around the world in a solar-powered plane.11
Fact #61: Walmart is one of the largest commercial adopters of solar power.5
Fact #62: One of the most common reasons people go solar is because someone in close proximity to them did.
Fact #63: Investing in solar power pays for itself over time. Our customers often break even and are cash-flow positive within five years.
Fact #64: Even oil and gas companies like Exxon Mobile use solar panels on oil rigs.7
Fact #65: Breweries are utilizing solar to cut operation costs. Heineken powers its brewing in the Netherlands with over 16,000 solar panels.18
Continue Exploring Solar
Solar energy is becoming more popular and affordable than ever. Isn’t it time you found out what the hype is about? We’ll provide a no-cost energy assessment to see if solar panels make sense for your lifestyle. No pushy sales reps, just more valuable information handed to you.
- Conserve Energy Future, Solar Energy Facts
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- Carbon Track, 50 Facts About Solar Energy
- Clean Technica, Solar PV Module Prices Have Fallen 80% Since 2008, Wind Turbines 29%
- The Motley Fool, 10 Facts About Solar Energy That Might Surprise You
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- Solar Power Authority, 50 Interesting Facts You Need to Know About Solar Energy
- The Wilderness Society, 10 facts you probably didn’t know about solar energy
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- Solar Power World, National Solar Jobs Census: Solar employment up 2.3% after two years of losses
- France 24 News, Solar Impulse 2 becomes first sun-powered plane to cross ocean
- SEIA, Solar Industry Research Data
- Forbes, China Just Built A 250-Acre Solar Farm Shaped Like A Giant Panda
- Zillow, Going Green: Homes with Solar Panels Sell for 4.1% More
- Solar Power World, Solar sheep are eating away at the O&M competition
- Redbull, The Greenest Festivals and Venues in the World
- Daily Kos, Renewable Thursday: Coal Fields to Solar Farms
- Solar Plaza, Top 100 Solar-Powered Beer Breweries
- The Solar Nerd, Everything you need to know about flexible solar panels