Ready for some fun under the sun? Let’s dive into these solar facts to make you brighter!
10 Solar Facts to Make You Brighter
1. Solar is one of the cleanest and most sustainable energy sources
Our usage of fossil fuels has taken a toll on our environment and health – specifically through water, air, and global warming pollution. Drilling, fracking, and mining operations contaminate our drinking water and jeopardize ecosystems. Fossil fuels also emit harmful air pollutants. According to the CREA, fossil fuel air pollution in the United States led to 230,000 deaths and $600 billion in annual economic losses. Fossil fuels also contribute to climate change and global warming. However, solar is a clean energy source that offers none of these disadvantages. Going solar is a necessary step in building a clean energy future.
2. Solar is the most abundant energy resource in the world
In any given moment in time, the Earth is intercepting 173 thousand terawatts of solar power from the Sun. That is 10,000 times more than the world’s total energy use.
3. Solar prices have dropped by 80%
The price of solar has significantly dropped with each year. When solar was first introduced in the 1970s, it cost about $76.67 per watt. In 2008, it dropped to $7.60 per watt. Now, the average cost is as low as $2.75 per watt.
4. Solar is ranked either first or second in US annual additions of new electric capacity
Solar accounts for 40% of all new added electric capacity in 2019. In 2013, solar experienced a drastic surge in US installation. It made a jump from 9% of all new electric additives to 28% in just one year. Since then, solar has been on a steady increase. In 2010 it accounted for a 0.1% share of total US electric capacity but accounts for a 2.5% share today.
5. Solar energy experiences an average annual growth rate of almost 50%
Solar energy has experienced rapid growth in this past decade. In 2010, the cumulative US solar installation barely passed the 2,000 MWdc (megawatts of direct current) threshold. However, the US is about to hit the 100,000 MWdc milestones in 2020. This means that solar has an annual growth rate of 48%.
6. Solar panel payback periods are on average 8 years but can be as short as 4-5 years
Solar panel payback period refers to how long it takes to recover the cost of switching to solar. As of 2020, the average US payback period is 7.6 years. However, this period varies by the state due to the different offered electric rates and incentives. In fact, some states have payback periods as short as 4-5 years.
7. A solar-powered aircraft flew for 26 days
The Zephyr S HAPS (High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite) is an unmanned solar-powered aircraft. It has a flight time of 25 days, 23 hours, and 57 minutes. This broke the world record for the “longest duration flight ever made.”
8. Solar sailing is a game-changer in space and might help us reach another star
Solar sailing is a method of propelling a spacecraft through space. It takes advantage of the photons found in light to give the spacecraft momentum to move. Its large reflective sails transfer the photon’s bounce off the sail into energy that pushes and pulls the spacecraft. By strategically angling the sails based on its relativity to the sun, the solar sail can control the direction it moves. Unlike rocket fuel, sunlight is limitless. This means that the spacecraft can theoretically travel forever. While the technology for interplanetary and interstellar solar sailing has not been developed, this feat could happen in the future.
9. (Partly) solar-powered cars will be available in 2021
Lightyear One is an electric car that aims to be the first-ever long-range solar-powered car. It is a plug-in electric vehicle with solar panels stretched across its roof. In the most optimal conditions, the solar panels could generate enough energy to travel over 12,000 miles annually. Having solar panels also means that owners won’t have to constantly plug in their cars to charge. Lightyear One is paving ways for the auto industry.
10. The reality of America's first solar-powered town is happening right now
Just northeast of Fort Myers, Florida is Babcock Ranch – America’s first solar-powered town. This suburban town is designed and built with a self-sustainability and pro-environment philosophy. From the 19,500 planned houses to self-driving shuttles, this entire town will be entirely fueled by the sun. A massive solar-powered farm with 350,000 solar panels that stretches across a 200 football-field-sized land will generate the town’s needs.