Ten interesting facts about solar power

Summer Sun Setting Over Hendersyde (UK)

Power from the sun makes life on earth possible–and always has. Isn’t it interesting that we refer to solar power as “alternative energy”?

Technological advances over the past couple of decades have made solar power into an efficient and affordable source of electricity, in addition to everything else the sun does for us. It makes sense to call it an alternative in comparison to burning fossil fuels or using nuclear plants.

The more electricity we can get from the sun, the less we will have to suffer the environmental and geopolitical consequences of these other fuels. Meanwhile, here are some interesting facts.

  1. It takes about eight minutes for energy to travel from the sun to the earth.
  2. British scientist John Herschel figured out how to use solar power to cook his food on an African journey he took 200 years ago.
  3. Albert Einstein’s experiments on photovoltaic power (which includes solar power) won him a Nobel Prize in 1921.
  4. Photovoltaic cells made from the silicon in one ton of sand can produce as much electricity as burning 500,000 tons of coal in a power plant.
  5. California gets so much sunlight that, according to a US Department of Energy report in 2000, San Francisco could supply all of its daily electricity needs by installing solar panels on the roofs of all of its government buildings and schools.
  6. Parts of the world not blessed with California sunshine cannot rely on solar power for all of their electricity, but they still benefit from it. Germany generates solar electricity on sunny days and stores some of it in storage batteries for use on cloudy days.
  7. There has been talk of placing solar panels on large tracts of desert land to generate electricity. Our power grid is not up to the task of distributing that electricity to where it is needed. Duke Energy has established partnerships with numerous businesses who provide land for smaller solar installations. Enough of those can accomplish the same purpose within the constraints of the present grid.
  8. By 2009 10,000 households in the United States went off the grid by using solar power for their homes. Power companies even buy excess electricity from these installations.
  9. Household solar systems used to be too expensive for all but the wealthiest households, but prices are at least 200% cheaper than they were 30 years ago. At the same time, solar technology has become more efficient and reliable.
  10. Short of converting an entire house to solar power, it is possible to install solar hot water heaters, shed and attic lights and ventilation, and outdoor lighting. There are even solar chargers for cell phones and other modern electronic gadgets. Decorative lighting for decks and gardens that would be an extravagant waste of power from the grid become eco friendly when they’re solar powered.

Go to Eco-Friendly Home Products for all of your solar needs.

Photo credit: Summer Sun Setting Over Hendersyde (UK). Some rights reserved by Alistair Murdoch.


Comments

Ten interesting facts about solar power — 20 Comments

  1. Green energy has come a long way in the last decade, it will only continue to grow in the future. It’s an exciting time for invention.

  2. Pingback: 20 Really Awesome Facts about Solar Power | Jim On Light

  3. “9. …at least 200% cheaper than they were 30 years ago.” This a very interesting “fact”. I’m not familiar with all this “new math” I hear people talk about, but if something is reduced by 50%, doesn’t that make it half of what it was? Would’t 100% be all of it? How in the heck is something 200% less than it was?!?

    • Math isn’t my strong point, either. After some investigation, however, I found this formula: Percent decrease = (Older – Newer) ÷ Older. To find “Older %” it is necessary to move the decimal point two places to the right. So let’s see. If something used to cost $10 and now costs $5, it costs 50% of what it did before, but that is not the percentage of the decrease. (10-5)/10 = 5. That’s not a 5% decrease, of course, it is a 500% decrease.

      Thanks for making me look it up. I learned something.

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