10 Facts About Solar Energy

Solar energy is renewable and sustainable

10 facts about solar energy

Solar energy is considered renewable and sustainable because it comes from the sun, which will continue shining for billions of years (https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/solar-energy-wildlife-and-environment). The sun produces an enormous amount of energy in the form of sunlight and heat. The amount of solar energy that hits the Earth’s surface every hour is greater than the amount of energy used by the entire world in a year (https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/solar/solar-energy-and-the-environment.php). Unlike fossil fuels which can run out, the sun provides a constant supply of energy that can be harnessed with solar panels. Solar energy is also sustainable because it does not produce air pollution or greenhouse gases when generating electricity. Using solar can help fight climate change by displacing fossil fuel energy use.

Solar energy is abundant

The sun provides an enormous amount of solar energy to the Earth. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the amount of solar energy that hits the Earth in just one hour is more than the entire world uses in a whole year [1]. The sun radiates 174 petawatts of power to the Earth continuously [1]. To put that in perspective, the total global energy consumption is only about 18 terawatts annually.

Solar energy is an inexhaustible resource. The amount of solar energy striking the planet in one year is about twice as much as will ever be obtained from all of Earth’s non-renewable resources of coal, oil, natural gas, and mined uranium combined [2]. Even if only a tiny fraction of that solar energy could be converted to electricity, it would still amount to many times the world’s total electricity production.

Solar energy helps fight climate change

Solar energy is a renewable energy source that produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation. Unlike fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned, solar panels generate clean electricity by harnessing energy from the sun. Widespread adoption of solar energy can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector and help mitigate climate change (Climate Change | SEIA).

According to the UN, solar photovoltaics could cut up to 6.6 gigatons of CO2 equivalent emissions globally in 2030, making it one of the most pivotal technologies for achieving climate change mitigation goals (Renewable energy – powering a safer future). By displacing electricity generation from fossil fuels, solar energy reduces the carbon footprint of energy consumption. As solar continues to expand as a share of energy generation, it can play an important role in transitioning to a carbon-neutral economy and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.

Solar energy can power homes and businesses

Solar power is an increasingly popular way to provide electricity to residential homes and commercial buildings. With rooftop solar panels or connections to solar farms, solar energy can offset or even eliminate reliance on the traditional electrical grid.

According to a report by the Solar Energy Industries Association, over 3 million homes and businesses in the U.S. have installed solar panels as of 2020 (https://www.seia.org/solar-industry-research-data). Solar adoption is growing as costs continue to fall. The average size of residential solar installations is now 8 kilowatts, enough to power typical household needs.

For businesses, solar energy can provide cost savings on monthly electricity bills. Major companies like Apple, Amazon, and Walmart have installed solar at their facilities. Costco tops the list with over 200 solar projects powering its warehouses and stores. Switching to solar helps these businesses reduce overhead costs and meet sustainability goals.

Homeowners can also benefit financially from solar panels. Federal and state tax credits, performance-based incentives, solar renewable energy credits, and net metering programs make solar more affordable. Once installed, solar panels can provide free daylight power for decades.

Solar energy employs hundreds of thousands

Over 230,000 Americans work in solar energy according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, citing https://www.seia.org/solar-industry-research-data. The solar industry has been one of the fastest growing job sectors over the past few years. Jobs in solar range from scientists and researchers developing new solar technologies, to engineers designing systems, to construction workers installing panels, to electricians connecting systems to the grid. States like California, Florida, Texas, New York, and New Jersey have the highest number of solar jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of solar installation jobs to grow by 51% over the next decade as solar continues to expand its share of electricity generation. With continued decrease in prices, solar is an increasingly attractive electricity source, supporting growing opportunities in solar jobs and careers.

Solar energy is becoming more affordable

The cost of solar panels and solar energy systems has decreased dramatically over the last 10 years. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), prices for residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems have dropped by over 70% since 2010[1]. The average price per watt for solar panels and system components was $0.50/watt in 2010, compared to just $0.14/watt in 2020. For a typical 5kW residential solar system, that translates to a price decrease from roughly $25,000 in 2010 to $7000 in 2020.

Several key factors have driven down costs, including technological advances, improved production and installation efficiency, and falling component prices. Solar panel technology has steadily improved to be more efficient at converting sunlight into energy. Manufacturing processes and supply chains have also matured and scaled, leading to lower production costs. Competition among solar companies has further reduced prices as the industry rapidly expanded. Installation labor costs have decreased as installers gain experience and streamline processes.

Industry experts predict solar costs will continue declining in the coming years as technology improves further. Some analysts forecast the average system cost could drop another 40% by 2030[2], making solar even more affordable and accessible to homeowners and businesses.

Solar energy systems have long lifespans

Solar panels are built to withstand decades of exposure to the elements. With proper installation and maintenance, today’s solar panels can operate efficiently for 30 years or longer. According to industry experts, most solar panels come with 25-30 year production warranties from reputable manufacturers.[1] After 25-30 years, solar panels may produce slightly less energy, but can keep functioning beyond their warrantied lifetimes.

Solar panel systems have a lifespan of several decades due to advances in materials science and manufacturing techniques. The protective glass surfaces are durable and waterproof. Rigorous testing ensures solar cells, wiring, and other components can withstand decades of UV exposure, temperature fluctuations, humidity, and stormy weather events.

Solar energy works even on cloudy days

While solar panels work best on sunny days, they can still generate electricity even when the sky is cloudy. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), solar panels can produce 10-25% of their full capacity on cloudy days[1]. The exact output depends on the cloud cover – thicker clouds block more sunlight. However, as long as some daylight passes through the clouds and reaches the solar panels, they will be able to produce at least some electricity.

Clouds are made up of water droplets or ice crystals which scatter the sunlight in many directions. But they do not completely block all the sunlight from passing through. Enough scattered sunlight reaches the solar panels to allow for energy production[2]. Newer solar panel technologies like monocrystalline and PERC solar cells are also more efficient in low light conditions compared to older panels.

So even though solar panels operate at reduced capacity on cloudy days, they can still be a worthwhile energy source. The electricity generated from solar panels on cloudy days often coincides with peak electricity usage times in the morning and evening when households turn on lights. Solar energy works even when the sun isn’t fully shining.


[1] https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/35297.pdf

[2] https://scijinks.gov/solar-energy-and-clouds/

Solar energy systems require little maintenance

Solar panels are extremely low maintenance once installed. Most solar panels on the market today only need occasional cleaning and basic system inspections to keep performing at high efficiency (Source).

It’s recommended to clean off any debris or dirt from solar panels with a soft brush and water around 2-4 times per year. This regular cleaning will help maximize solar production. Many solar panel manufacturers recommend avoiding harsh chemicals or abrasive tools when cleaning to prevent any damage to the panels (Source).

Beyond occasional cleaning, solar panels themselves don’t have parts that need frequent repairs or replacement. The inverters that convert the solar energy into usable electricity may need replacement after 10-15 years. But overall, solar power systems involve minimal regular costs for maintenance.

Solar energy can be used for many applications

Solar energy has many practical uses in our everyday lives. The two most common applications are producing electricity and providing heat for homes, businesses, industry, and agriculture. Solar energy can be harnessed in many ways thanks to photovoltaic panels that convert sunlight into electricity and solar thermal collectors that capture heat from the sun.

Solar electricity from photovoltaic systems powers everything from small gadgets to entire buildings and grids. Solar thermal energy can heat water for domestic use or even large-scale district heating systems. Solar energy is also used for transportation, providing electricity for electric vehicles and trains.

Other applications of solar power include solar lighting, solar pumps for irrigation and water supply, solar-powered charging stations, and solar-powered appliances. The uses of solar energy are diverse and expanding as the technology becomes more advanced and cost-effective. With its variety of applications, solar energy offers a sustainable solution to many of our energy needs.

Similar Posts