Harnessing the sun’s energy with solar panels is one of the cleanest ways to gain energy independence. At Freedom Solar, we looked into 50 solar power facts so you can learn more about the benefits of going solar, its history and the industry. https://www.youtube.com/embed/l8Hcsk5wdtk
1. SOLAR POWER IS THE EARTH’S MOST ABUNDANT ENERGY SOURCE
2. SOLAR ENERGY IS A FREE ENERGY SOURCE
Solar energy is cost-free, accessible and abundant. It takes less than 10 minutes for light to travel an astounding 90 million miles from the sun to the Earth, and this process happens nonstop every day.
3. YOU CAN USE SOLAR POWER TO RUN YOUR ENTIRE HOME
Solar power is one of the safest and greenest solutions to run your home’s key systems. A few examples are lighting, air conditioners, hot water heaters, thermal heating, ventilation fans and electric appliances.
[Related: Tips to Save on Energy Costs]
4. SOLAR ENERGY COMPRISES RADIANT HEAT AND LIGHT
Solar energy is any type of energy that the sun generates. It originates in the sun through nuclear fusion, which is when the protons in hydrogen atoms collide in the sun’s core and fuse to create a helium atom. This process generates radiant heat and light.
5. PEOPLE FIRST USED SOLAR ENERGY IN THE 7TH CENTURY B.C.
In theory, humans first used solar energy as early as the 7th century B.C. by using magnifying glasses to spark fires with sunlight. In the 3rd century B.C., the Greeks and Romans began harnessing solar power with mirrors to light torches for religious gatherings. The Chinese documented the use of mirrors to light torches later, in 20 A.D.
6. SOLAR POWER WAS OFFICIALLY DISCOVERED IN 1839
Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered “the photovoltaic effect” in 1839, one year after an industry built the first coal-fired power plant. The PV effect is when an electrical current occurs in a conductor after the sun’s rays hit it.
7. SCIENTISTS CREATED SILICON SOLAR CELLS IN 1954
Bell Labs is responsible for the creation of modern silicon PV cells in 1954. Since then, the efficiency of these cells has increased more than four times, and the price has decreased significantly.
8. SOLAR IS THE WORLD’S MOST POPULAR FORM OF NEW ELECTRICITY GENERATION
Solar power has quickly become the preferred form of new electricity because of solar panels’ lower cost and higher efficiency. Analysts expect solar power to account for almost half of new electricity generation in the U.S. in 2022.
9. SOLAR POWER PRODUCES NO POLLUTION
Excepting the pollution produced during the manufacturing process, solar power is one of the cleanest, most sustainable energy resources in the world.
However, not all panels are created equal. SunPower solar panels are the only panels to achieve a Cradle to Cradle certification, meaning the company manufactures them as ethically and sustainably as possible.
10. SOLAR POWER IMPROVES WORLD HEALTH
Burning fossil fuels creates toxic pollution and hurts global health. Pollution affects as many people as HIV or malaria. It has particularly dangerous consequences for children, older adults and all living plants and animals.
Solar power drastically reduces the amount of fossil fuels that industries use for power generation. That means less pollution goes into the air (and into our lungs).
11. SOLAR PANELS CAN INCREASE YOUR HOME’S VALUE
A handful of studies have shown that solar panel installations increase your home’s resale value by up to $6,000 per kilowatt (KW) of installed solar panels. That’s about 4.1% of your home’s value.
12. SOLAR CAN HELP LOWER ELECTRIC BILLS
Depending on where you live, you may be able to take advantage of net metering and resell any excess energy you produce. Even if you decide to finance, your monthly loan payment may be less than your average electric bill. Researching local solar power facts and guidelines can help you save even more.
13. SOLAR SYSTEMS COME WITH A WARRANTY
Most solar systems come with a warranty ranging from 25 to 30 years — essentially the life span of solar panels.
Freedom Solar offers three 25-year warranty plans for SunPower solar panels. They include a product warranty guaranteeing the system’s quality, a workmanship warranty to repair or replace defective panels, and a performance warranty that ensures the system’s highest power production.
[Related: What to Know Before Installing Solar Panels]
14. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BUY SOLAR PANELS OUTRIGHT
You don’t have to pay cash outright to obtain a solar panel system. In fact, you can afford solar and reap its benefits in many other ways.
Low-interest loans and other financing options are available for solar system owners. Additionally, federal incentives (such as the solar tax credit) as well as state and local rebates and incentives help lower the cost of going solar.
15. THE EARTH GETS 174 PETAWATTS (PW) OF SOLAR RADIATION
The Earth receives about 174 PW of solar radiation daily: 1 PW equals 1 quadrillion watts. About 30% of the solar radiation that hits the Earth remains in its upper atmosphere and then reflects back into space. Clouds, oceans and land absorb the rest.
16. SOLAR INSULATION PLAYS A ROLE IN THE WATER CYCLE
Because the Earth’s clouds, oceans and land absorb solar radiation, their temperatures rise. This process fuels the water cycle.
Warm air rises from the oceans, which causes convection. This air then rises to high altitudes, and the condensation of water vapor forms clouds. These clouds cause rain and bring water back to the Earth’s surface, which completes the water cycle.
17. SOLAR ENERGY INDIRECTLY CREATES BIOMASS
Photosynthesis converts solar energy into chemical energy thanks to plants. This chemical energy eventually creates biomass (aka biofuel). Biomass is plant or animal material that eventually becomes fuel to produce heat or electricity.
Wood, energy crops and organic waste (like from yards, farms and forests) are all examples of biomass. These gradually become fossil fuels after long periods of time.
18. HORTICULTURE AND AGRICULTURE MAKE MAXIMUM USE OF SOLAR ENERGY
Using solar energy to its maximum potential includes mastering certain agricultural techniques. These methods include timing planting cycles and properly mixing plant varieties that need similar sunlight levels.
Those in the horticulture and agriculture industries commonly use greenhouses because they convert solar radiation (light) into heat. In turn, this promotes year-round cultivation of particular crops. It seems knowing solar power facts helps far more than homeowners!
19. SOLAR ENERGY CAN HEAT WATER THROUGH SOLAR-POWERED HOT WATER SYSTEMS
Some solar-powered hot water systems can heat water to temperatures as high as 140 degrees Celsius. In some areas, this accounts for 60% to 70% of the water people use domestically.
20. SOLAR CHIMNEYS ARE PASSIVE SOLAR VENTILATION SYSTEMS
Interestingly, solar chimneys are a way to achieve energy-efficient building design by providing natural ventilation and temperature regulation.
They’re similar to traditional chimneys in that they have shafts to connect a building’s interior and exterior. Glazing or using thermal mass materials (such as bricks, woods, rocks, concrete, steel or soil) can improve their function.
21. SOLAR ENERGY CAN HELP MAKE SALINE WATER
Creating salt from seawater is one of the oldest uses of solar energy. Without using any chemicals or electricity, solar energy can make potable, brackish or saline water to treat wastewater.
22. SOLAR ENERGY IS THE ORIGINAL CLOTHES-DRYING METHOD
We all know sunlight makes you feel warmer and drier. But hanging clothes on lines, racks and more with full sun exposure is the original form of drying clothes.
23. SOLAR ENERGY CAN PASTEURIZE WATER
Pasteurization is the process of disinfecting water using heat or radiation instead of boiling. Water pasteurization produces the same results as boiling, but it takes longer to complete.
The process usually involves putting water in a dark or blackened container and then into a solar cooker. Then, the solar cooker reflects sunlight into the container. A solar cooker is usually an insulated box made of plastic, wood, cardboard or tightly woven straw with reflective panels on the sides to concentrate sunlight onto the water container.
Solar pasteurization needs six minutes of exposure at 149 to 167 degrees Fahrenheit.
24. THERMAL STORAGE SYSTEMS CAN STORE SOLAR ENERGY
You can store solar energy in the form of heat in thermal storage systems by using material with high specific heat. These materials include stone, soil, water and even molten salts.
25. THE 1970S OIL CRISIS INDIRECTLY SPARKED SOLAR TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH
The oil crisis of the 1970s revealed how delicate fossil fuels are as an energy source. This resulted in research into alternative energy solutions, such as solar renewable energy technologies. During the decade, solar and wind energy began to gain momentum globally.
26. PEOPLE RECOGNIZE SOLAR ENERGY AS THE FUTURE OF ALTERNATIVE ENERGY
Solar energy is nonpolluting, unlike fossil fuels, and helps combat climate change and the greenhouse gas effect. Many (if not most) people now recognize it as the future of alternative, renewable energy sourcing. And as more people learn solar power facts, that recognition level rises.
27. SPACE MISSIONS RELY ON SOLAR ENERGY
You might be surprised to learn that the space industry adopted solar technology in the early 1950s to power spacecraft. For example, the Vanguard 1 was the first satellite to generate power through solar cells. It remains the oldest humanmade satellite that’s still in orbit, logging more than 6 billion miles to date.
Today, various countries also use solar energy to power spacecraft when they send them on missions.
28. SOLAR ENERGY IS BECOMING MORE AFFORDABLE
Thanks to new advancements in scientific research and technology, solar energy is due to become more affordable in the future. Cost patterns are decreasing, and efficiency levels continue to rise.
29. SOLAR POWER IS THE THIRD MOST-USED RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCE
Wind is currently the most prevalent source of renewable electricity in the U.S., but electricity from hydropower is a close second. Solar energy is the third most-prevalent source of renewable energy for electricity.
However, out of these solar power facts, this one’s bound to change soon. Residential solar panel installations are proving to be a major source of electricity for homes. That’s because of their easy installation and long average life span.
30. AIRPLANES CAN FLY WHILE RUNNING ENTIRELY ON SOLAR ENERGY
You probably know solar energy can power electric vehicles (EVs), trains and even spacecraft. But you might not know about solar-powered planes that can fly around the world with no power source other than solar energy.
In 2016, Swiss pilot and explorer Bertrand Piccard departed Abu Dhabi in his solar-powered aircraft, the Solar Impulse II. He was able to complete a global flight entirely fueled from solar power and return the following July.
31. THE LARGEST SOLAR POWER PLANT IN THE WORLD IS IN CHINA
China has the world’s largest solar energy fleet installation, which generates 205 gigawatts (GW) of power. This project reflects the country’s stance as the world’s largest solar energy market. It also represents China’s goal to neutralize its total carbon emissions by 2060.
32. SOLAR POWER IS THE TOP ENERGY SOURCE FOR TEMPORARY USE
Thanks to the abundance of sunlight and the easy solar system installation process, solar energy is the preferred temporary energy source. Mining sites, traveling fairs and even the Olympic Games transport and install solar panels at short-term locations. It’s one of the more surprising solar power facts, for sure.
33. SOLAR ENERGY CAN POWER CALCULATORS
You undoubtedly know solar energy has a range of uses, but you may not know that it can power calculators. Solar-powered calculators use PV cells to capture the sun’s rays, then convert them into an electric current. This electric current charges the calculator’s battery.
Solar-powered calculators won’t work as quickly if it’s overcast or there’s little indoor sunlight. But if they’re sitting directly under the sun, they’ll collect solar energy regardless. And they take only an hour or so to go from 0% to 100% charge.
34. SOLAR PANELS ARE VIRTUALLY MAINTENANCE-FREE
Solar panels require minimal to no maintenance and last for decades. Once you’ve installed them, there are no recurring costs. Plus, they’ll remain intact as long as no especially severe natural disasters occur.
[Related: Can Solar Panels Withstand a Hurricane?]
35. SOLAR POWER IS FREE OF NOISE POLLUTION
Solar panel systems have no moving parts and don’t require fuel (other than sunlight) to produce power. That makes them absolutely free of noise pollution.
36. SOLAR PANEL SYSTEMS HAVE FIVE COMPONENTS
A residential solar panel system comprises a varying number of solar panels, as well as an inverter, battery, charge regulator, wiring and other support materials. The solar panels absorb sunlight, which the inverter converts into electricity. The battery then stores the electricity.
The charge regulator keeps the battery from overcharging, which could cause its life cycle to burn out faster. Wiring and other support materials protect and connect the entire system.
[Related: What to Know Before Installing Solar Panels]
37. SOLAR BATTERIES CAN PROVIDE SOLAR POWER 24/7
Attaching a battery to your solar panel system allows ongoing access to electricity. Many homes and businesses buy batteries to attach to their systems so they can use solar power throughout the day, including at night or when it’s cloudy or overcast. It’s one of the lesser-known solar power facts, but it packs big benefits.
38. WE MEASURE SOLAR ENERGY IN WATTS (W), KILOWATTS (KW) AND KILOWATT-HOURS (KWH)
People most commonly use W, KW and kWh as units for electricity: 1 KW equals 1,000 W. However, kWh doesn’t refer to the number of KW you use per hour.
For example, 1 kWh is the amount of energy you’d use if you kept a 1,000 W tool or appliance running for an hour.
39. SOLAR PV ENERGY GENERATES 26 TERAWATT-HOURS (TWH) IN THE U.S.
The highest increase in energy use throughout the U.S. was via renewable energy sources. Electricity generation using solar PV makes up a large portion, contributing 26 tWh of the total 98 tWh of renewable electricity generation in the U.S.
40. SOLAR PV ELECTRICITY GENERATION INCREASED 145 TWH GLOBALLY
Between 2020 and 2021, global renewable electricity generation through solar PV increased 145 tWh.
41. SOLAR ENERGY FUELS PUBLIC TRANSIT
Buses in particular are relying increasingly on solar power. Technicians don’t install solar panels on the buses themselves. Instead, they place panels on the tops of bus stations to absorb solar energy and generate electricity for later use.
During transit schedule off-times, buses can plug into charging stations and charge their batteries. Traditional consumer EVs are adapting to solar-powered forms of charging, too. Many people are connecting their solar panel systems to their Level 1 chargers at their residences.
[Related: How Many Solar Panels Do You Need for EVs?]
42. CALIFORNIA GENERATES THE MOST SOLAR POWER IN THE U.S.
As of 2022, California remains in first place for state ranking in electricity generation using solar power. The state’s solar PV energy generation accounts for 32% of the country’s total electricity production through solar.
43. SOLAR ENERGY USERS SAVE UP TO 35 TONS OF CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2) ANNUALLY
There’s a growing collective effort to rely on clean energy sources, one being through solar power. Solar energy users save about 35 tons of CO2 emissions and 75 million barrels of oil yearly.
44. LAS VEGAS OPERATES ON 100% SOLAR POWER
The Las Vegas, Nevada, city government depends entirely on renewable energy through solar power production.
45. POLLUTION PREVENTS THE SUN’S RAYS FROM REACHING EARTH’S SURFACE
Urban areas have a lot of smog and air pollution, and that harms solar power production. The sulfates in polluted air reflect radiation, preventing it from reaching Earth — and thus solar panels.
For example, Delhi, India, sees around 12% less sun than it would if it had cleaner air. As a result, it’s a less-than-ideal place for ample solar production.
46. HOMEOWNERS BREAK EVEN ON THEIR SOLAR PANEL SYSTEMS IN UNDER 10 YEARS
Many financial plans can help people offset the cost of going solar. Most homeowners can break even on their system investment in under 10 years.
Because solar panels last for several decades, most of the time you own a solar panel system will be virtually payment-free. Who knew solar power facts could be so thrifty?
47. A SOLAR PANEL ARRAY IN THE MOJAVE DESERT COULD GENERATE A YEAR’S WORTH OF U.S. ENERGY NEEDS IN ONE DAY
The Mojave Desert receives so much direct sunlight that if it had lines of solar panel arrays, it’d generate more energy in a single day than the U.S. needs for an entire year.
In fact, the amount of potential solar energy generation in the Mojave Desert is twice the annual electricity usage in the U.S.
48. THE COST OF SOLAR PANELS HAS DECREASED 99% SINCE 1977
Solar panels are essential for harvesting solar energy. The cost of a solar cell is now $0.21 per W, as compared to $77 per W in 1977. In recent years, an entire assembled module costs just $0.39 per W.
49. SOLAR ENERGY CAN COST AS LITTLE AS .06 CENTS PER KWH
Solar energy prices continue to decrease, costing $0.06 per kWh on unsubsidized terms. This makes solar power one of the cheapest alternatives to fossil fuels, which cost anywhere from $0.05 to $0.18 per kWh. When it comes to solar power facts, this one certainly has practical benefits!
50. THE AVERAGE SOLAR PANEL SYSTEM HAS A 20% EFFICIENCY RATE
Solar panel efficiency ratings vary depending on the manufacturer and model you have. However, the average solar panel system has a rating of about 20% efficiency. That means your panels will convert 20% of the sunlight that hits them into electricity.
Standard-efficiency solar panels function at between 15% and 20% efficiency, and high-efficiency panels function at between 18% and 22%. Some SunPower solar panels rate as high as 24% efficiency.