30 Solar Energy Facts That Prove Solar Power is the Way
There are many benefits to solar energy, and today, the solar energy industry is more powerful than ever. Over the past several decades, there has been much debate and development within the industry that we’ve heard about, but there are also many solar energy facts that may surprise you.
We've collected several solar energy facts that certainly show the positive impact that solar energy has on our world now and how it will impact Earth going forward. There are many solar myths and facts out there, but as the technology of solar energy progresses and becomes more prominent across both the United States and the world as a whole, the importance of it all is becoming more clear.
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Here are some fun facts about solar energy, including solar panel facts and renewable solar energy facts.
- The most abundant energy resource on Earth is solar energy. Did you know that 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strikes Earth continuously? Believe it or not, that's more than 10,000 times the world's total energy use.
- Airplanes are now able to fly around the globe running entirely on solar energy. Not only can solar energy be the power for the cars, space stations, and trains, but it can power planes as well. In 2016, a Swiss pilot left Abu Dhabi in a solar-powered aircraft known as the Solar Impulse II and flew around the world. When he returned, the flight, which allowed countless valuable photo opportunities, was able to show the power of solar power in our world moving forward.
- Since 1977, the costs of solar panels have fallen by 99%. Way back in 1977, it cost $77 per watt for one simple solar cell. Today, the cost is now $0.21 per watt, according to GTM Research's Q3 2017 Solar Market Insight Report. This is one of the solar power facts that shows how solar energy has become more economical and more important in the past few decades.
- Today, solar energy is cheaper than fossil fuels. Solar energy may be cheaper than coal, nuclear, natural gas, and diesel, depending on where you're located in the United States.
- Solar power plants can last for at least 40 years. The infrastructure around a solar power plant has much value. In fact, solar panels could be replaced with new and more efficient modules at a much lower cost and thus improve performance. Once a solar power plant is built, it can have a very long and very effective lifespan.
- Worldwide, China is the leader in solar energy. While we're seeing solar energy getting much more attention than ever before across America, it has been China that has been ahead of the game. In 2017 alone, China's 50 GW of solar power would have powered 8.2 million homes in the United States.
- Despite the global pandemic of 2020, the solar industry saw record-breaking growth. Per the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), solar panel installations saw an increase of 43% (which is 19.2 gigawatts of output) over 2019. This was a world record and shows great promise for the future.
- Since 2019, more than 2 million solar systems have been installed in the United States alone. The United States passed the mark of two million solar system installations in early 2019. By 2023, the solar industry is expected to hit four million installations, and it’s predicted to quadruple in size by 2030.
- If a homeowner wants to go solar, they don't need to install their own solar panels. As of late, the concept of community solar (also referred to as shared solar) is becoming more widespread. This is the idea of installing a massive solar farm where hundreds of thousands of people can source their energy, and it's been taking off even more than ever in 2021. The concept is currently most popular in the states of California, Colorado, Minnesota, New York, and Massachusetts. It's expected that in the years to come, this concept will become even more popular across the United States.
- California is home to the largest solar thermal energy production plant in the world. Located in the Mojave Desert, Ivanpah is a 392-megawatt solar plant, and it's the biggest solar thermal energy production plant on Earth. It uses a concentrated solar power technology (CSP), and in 2021, it helped to almost double America's solar thermal energy production.
- California is at the forefront of the solar industry for the United States. California has been pushing the solar industry forward more than any other state in the country. By the end of 2016 alone, 14% of the state's electricity was coming from solar, which was higher than any other state at the time, per the SEIA. As of 2021, California remains one of the top states in the country in terms of solar power use.
- Solar helps create jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, solar power has generated many well-paying jobs in the United States. In fact, solar power has created jobs for nearly 250,000 across America alone, with the expectation of continued growth. Not only that, but research from the Solar Foundation showed that 25% of solar jobs across the United States have been filled by minorities, more than 25% of the jobs have been filled by women, and close to 10% of the jobs have been taken by veterans. Of all solar facts to consider, this may be one of the most impactful.
- Solar helps to create a healthier environment. With solar energy, no air pollution is emitted, which is much different than with other types of conventional energy technology. From January 2020 through June 2020 alone, more than 96 million metric tons of CO2 emissions were avoided with solar energy.
- You can boost of the value of your home with solar panels. When considering the facts about solar panels for your home, think of your home's overall value. According to a study by Forbes, on average, homeowners who installed rooftop solar systems recouped about 97% of their initial investment. Homeowners also saw their electricity costs lowered. In comparison, it's estimated that homeowners only see roughly a 60% return on investment for remodeling the kitchen in their home. It's been estimated that homes with solar panels sell for roughly 4.1% more than homes without them.
- The entire Earth could be powered for a year from just one hour of sunlight. According to information from the U.S. Department of Energy, the sun hits Earth with 430 quintillion joules of energy in an hour. Each year, all humans on Earth use roughly 410 quintillion joules of energy.
Here are some more interesting facts about solar energy. These solar power facts are fast tidbits to show the impact that solar energy is having on our world!
- Sunlight and solar power travels fast — so fast, in fact, that it can travel 90 million miles to Earth in just ten minutes.
- The first ever solar panel was invented back in 1941 by Russell Ohl, which led to the first commercial panel being released by Bell Laboratories 13 years later in 1954.
- Solar energy is the cheapest source of energy in the world.
- In 1958, the United States introduced the Vanguard I, which was the first solar-powered satellite.
- As of 2019, solar energy became cheaper than fossil fuels.
- In China, there is a 250-acre solar farm that was constructed in the shape of a panda in 2018.
- Currently, the United States of America is the third-largest solar energy market and generator on Earth.
- Despite adding value to a home, solar panels are exempt from property taxes in many states.
- People who use solar energy can save up to 75 million barrels of oil each year and 35 tons of carbon dioxide.
- The International Space Station runs completely on solar power.
- It would require 191,000 square miles of solar panels to power the entire planet with solar energy.
- Solar panels that face south perform the best in the United States.
- The largest city in America to operate on 100% renewable energy (most of which is solar power) is Las Vegas, Nevada.
- The first city in the United States to achieve 100% clean energy generation for its residents from solar power was Burlington, Vermont.
If a home has solar panels, it can reduce its 30-year carbon footprint by 100 tons.
There are several fun facts about solar energy to consider! These solar energy facts are proof that solar energy is the way of the future, helping to promote a future of clean energy.