Nature Solar Articles

101 Unbelievable Facts about Solar Energy

Humans are using non- renewable fuels at an alarming rate. We are already seeing the effects of pollution on our planet. The average temperature of our planet is increasing with every passing year. So, now people are looking towards alternative energy sources like Solar, Wind, Wave, and Geothermal Energy which are renewable and pollution-free.

Many countries have started using renewable sources for their energy needs. But they are far from fulfilling their energy needs solely by renewable sources.

So, here are facts about solar energy which will make you understand its specialty and why they are considered the future of this planet.

What is Solar Energy?

Sun has been producing energy for more than 4 billion years and it is expected to produce energy for the same in the future too. This energy is called Solar Energy and as it is inexhaustible it is Renewable energy.

This energy is free, reliable, and doesn’t cause direct pollution. To know more, read The real importance of Sun in Daily Life.

Here we have listed 101 Unbelievable Solar Energy Facts, many of them will blow your mind.

Solar Energy Facts

Fact 1: Currently, typical solar panels convert only 5-20 % of the energy that falls on it. The rest of the 80-95% heatS the solar panel or gets reflected.

Fact 2: New research suggests that, Panels made from Perovskites doped with ligand can increase the efficiency to around 40%.

Fact 3: Solar panels typically use radiation with a wavelength of 400- 1100nms. The rest is either reflected or absorbed.

Fact 4: A working Solar panel is colder than a malfunctioned solar panel. This is because the working solar panel converts 20% of incident energy to electricity and only has 80% energy to heat it up.

Fact 5: In Solar plants, a thermal camera is used to check if a solar panel is working properly or malfunctioned. Panel with comparatively high temperatures is faulty.

Fact 6: Deserts are the best places to install Solar Plants. They get sunlight year-round and the sky is always clear. Additionally, deserts are unused and are a great option for solar plants economically.

Fact 7: The Albedo, amount of light that gets reflected back after hitting the surface is very low for a solar panel (around 0.15). Albedo of Snow, Deserts are high(They reflect back most of the light). It is low for jungles, water bodies like oceans (absorb most of the light).

Fact 8: Solar Panels (low albedo), when deployed in deserts (high albedo), will cause an increase in the absorption of Sun energy for that area. When done as a megaproject (filling an entire desert with solar panels) could increase the average temperature of the earth.

Fact 9: Hypothetically speaking, if our present-day earth is fully covered with Solar Panels. The average temperature of the earth will rise significantly. This is because albedo is planet earth is 0.3 while Solar panels is 0.15(approx).

Fact 10: So, many large scale solar plants in deserts(high albedo areas) can increase the global temperature. But this increment is very tiny when compared with an increase in temperature due to greenhouse gases.

Fact 11: Once installed, this increased temperature can easily be brought down, as there is no further pollution being added into the atmosphere.

Fact 12: For the same net power output, building a Solar plant generates twice the pollution as building a Coal power plant. But once built, Solar plants don’t produce pollution so it is environmentally friendly in the long run.

Fact 13: It takes a few(estimates say 2-3) years for a Solar Plant to compensate for the pollution generated while building it.

Fact 14: So, the plan to save the planet earth from global warming relies on replacing the existing fossil-fuel based power plants with Solar Projects and use them for more than 3 years.

Fact 15: After around 3 years, Solar plants achieve breakeven and can be technically called as Carbon-Neutral or Net-zero carbon footprint.

Fact 16: Earths reflect back around 30% of the energy it receives from the sun. The rest is absorbed by land, atmosphere, and oceans. Average Albedo of earth is 0.3.

Fact 17: Solar Towers are huge towers with water or lead at the top of them. That tower is surrounded by hundreds of mirrors tracking the movement of the sun.

Fact 18: These mirrors change their angles such that light from the sun is reflected onto the top of tower heating water/ lead in it. This heated liquid creates steam from water and is used to rotate turbines and produce electricity. You can see its picture below.

Mirrors reflecting Solar energy onto Solar Tower in China. Image credits: site

Fact 19: Solar Panels today convert both light energy and heat energy into electricity.

Fact 20: Most of the electricity produced by a typical solar panel is from light energy. A tiny amount is generated from radiation from the sun. Read Do solar panels work on hear or light? to know more.

Fact 21: There are 2 types of solar irradiance that matters for a Solar Panel. They are Direct Normal Irradiance( Beam Radiation) and Diffused Horizontal Irradiance( Diffuse Sky Radiation).

Fact 22: When electromagnetic radiation encounters small particles of a size similar to their wavelength in their path. They get scattered and produce a haze like effect, called Mie Scattering.

Fact 23: This Mie Scattering effect takes place because of clouds, smog, dust particles in the air, and usually decreases the Direct Irradiance received by the earth’s surface. Thus decreases the energy output from Photovoltaic Panels.

Fact 24: Sometimes, due to Mie Scattering, depending on the position of clouds or fog, the energy received by Solar Panels increases by 50% than during a normal clear sky. So, Solar Plants should be built with this in consideration too.

Fact 25: There are plans to place solar panels in space and send the harnessed power back to earth in the form of microwaves. If it is achieved, humanity will have a never-ending supply of energy.

Fact 26: This quest to fulfill our energy requirements from space solar projects started in 1941. “Reason“, a short story by Isaac Asimov mentions a technology where energy captured from Sun is transmitted via microwave beams to nearby planets from a space station.

Fact 27: Recently on 17th May 2020 US Airforce launched Atlas V rocket. It is carrying the secretive X-37B spaceplane. This is going to conduct first of its kind experiment to collect solar energy in space and see if it can be beamed back to earth.

Fact 28: As of 2020, Solar Panels of 65 x 39 inches size will produce around 300 watts in Standard Test Conditions(STC) i.e., peak sun with clear sky or 1000 watts of sunlight for a square meter of surface.

Fact 29: Solar Plants cannot supply electricity for an area or city alone. This is because Solar power plant’s output changes with irradiance and cannot be controlled.

Fact 30: So, Solar Plants have to be used with diesel or Coal power plants. Whenever the energy output of Solar Plants decreases, coal power plants can fill the gap and meet the demand.

Fact 31: Using Solar Energy is not a new thing. Humanity has been using Solar energy for ages. Primitive human beings used Solar Energy to dry the seeds they collected so that they can be stored for long.

Fact 32: A feasible environmentally friendly future will have a majority of energy coming from Solar Power Plants while also having some thermal power plants running to meet the unexpected loads or decrease of output from Solar Plants.

Fact 33: The recycling recovery rate of Solar Panels is also high. Veolia, French water and waste management business, has a PV recycling plant in France. This plant can recover 95% of high-quality substances.

Fact 34: This recovery is expected to increase due to investments in research from many European governments and companies.

Fact 35: Life on earth is a result of Solar energy. If it wasn’t for the Sun, no life would have started on earth.

Fact 36: Solar energy is divided into active and passive. Solar panels and thermal energy technology comes under Active Solar Technology.

Fact 37: Building structures with spacious rooms and big windows thus increasing the sunlight entering the room. This comes under Passive Solar Technology.

Fact 38: Solar panels are primarily made out of Silica, which is the same material in normal sand.

Fact 39: As per the US Department of Energy, our planet receives 430 quintillion joules of energy per hour. To put it in perspective it is more than the energy our world consumes in an entire year.

Fact 40: Sun is the critical player for the rains we get. Water gets evaporated from the lakes, rivers, and oceans because of the sun. Plants and Trees also release water into the atmosphere by Transpiration.

Fact 41: This Water Vapour travels upwards due to convection. As it gets higher and higher, cold air condenses water vapor into small droplets and forms clouds.

Fact 42: When the cloud becomes full of water, it rains or snows thus water reaches the ground and forms rivers, lakes, etc. This process repeats over and over. This entire cycle is called the Water Cycle.

Fact 43: The food we eat is because of the sun. Plants produce food by taking solar energy, water, and carbon dioxide. This process is called Photosynthesis.

Fact 44: Humans have been using solar energy to prepare salt from ocean water for centuries. It is one of the oldest use of Solar energy.

Fact 45: Some hot water systems use solar energy to heat up water. This water is used in cooking, washing, etc.

Fact 46: Solar Panels can even work with artificial light. They can be used indoors, we can observe this in solar calculators. These calculators work flawlessly without seeing sunlight at all.

Fact 47: Solar power cell Technology is first discovered by Edmond Becquerel in 1839. He was working on cells with metal electrodes in conducting solutions. He realized that when the electrodes are exposed to light, the cell produced more current. This was due to the Photovoltaic Effect.

Fact 48: Albert Einstein received the Nobel Prize for his work on the Photoelectric Effect. It is the same principle that solar panels use to produce electricity.

Fact 49: When light with energy more than a certain threshold hits a metal surface, an electron from the metal is released. This electron is called Photoelectron.

Fact 50: Light contains particles called Photons when they collide with an electron in the metal surface. Some energy of the photon is transferred to electron thus releasing it from the metal surface. The rest of the energy is transferred to the released electron. This phenomenon is called the Photoelectric Effect.

Fact 51: In 1883 Charles Fritz created the first working Selenium Solar Cell. Russel Ohl invented the first working solar cell in 1941. This was the ancestor of our modern silica Solar Cells.

Fact 52: In 1888, Alexander Stoletov designed the first solar cell based on the Photoelectric Effect.

Fact 53: The first commercial solar panel was developed by Bell Laboratories in 1954. It was invented by  Calvin Souther Fuller, Daryl Chapin, and Gerald Pearson.

Fact 54: American Satellite Vanguard I became the first satellite that used Solar Panels for its energy requirements.

Fact 55: Now, satellites in space (even the ISS) get their energy completely from solar panels.

Fact 56: Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg traveled around the earth in a solar-powered plane called Solar Impulse 2. It took them 505 days to finish the 26,000 miles journey. During the entire journey they used nothing but Solar Energy.

Fact 57: Every substance we see on earth is made up of elements. All these elements are made in Stars.

Fact 58: Due to the extreme temperature and pressure in Stars, smaller nuclei combined to form heavier nuclei and they inturn formed elements we see today. This is called NucleoSynthesis.

Fact 59: NucleoSynthesis requires very high-speed collisions. These can only happen in extremely high temperatures of billions of degrees.

Fact 60: To fuse Carbon, we need about 1 billion degrees. For elements heavier than Oxygen, even higher temperatures are required. These temperatures are available in stars that are heavier than our Sun.

Fact 61: Our body contains many of these elements too. So, in a sense, we are once part of Stars. The particles which we eat and breathe were all part of Stars.

Fact 62: The price of solar panels is decreasing with each passing day. It fell by 90% from the day it was invented and is expected to keep falling.

Fact 63: Many people are installing solar panels and selling the excess electricity to governments thus earning a living.

Fact 64: To know more about incentives, subsidies, tax credits, and schemes on rooftop solar panels and energy production in the USA, India, and the UK. Visit UK Solar if you are from the UK, India Solar if you are from India, USA Solar if you are from the USA.

Fact 65: The earliest direct use of solar energy as we use today was 2700 years ago. People used a magnifying glass to create fires from sunlight.

Fact 66: Solar energy is used to create electricity, cook food, and even run vehicles.

Fact 67: The more pollution in an area, the less is the electricity generated from solar panels. Pollution, mist, smog, and clouds block sun rays from falling on the solar panel, thus decreasing its productivity.

Fact 68: Solar panels are becoming a boon for people who live away from developed centers and cities.

Fact 69: They can even work during rain and cloudy conditions. But the power output drops. Researchers are trying to make solar cells that can work efficiently even during cloudy conditions.

Fact 70: When used with batteries, solar panels can powerup a system or house for the entire day. You don’t need to worry about power at night if you have a battery with solar panels.

Fact 71: Sunlight falls on Solar panels creating electricity. This generated power is stored in batteries and also used in the day time. At night or during rains or cloudy conditions, energy stored in batteries is used for household applications. This system provides seamless electricity 24X7.

Fact 72: Deserts are usually wastelands, bur for the solar energy they are a boon from god. China installed a 1500MW solar plant in the Gobi Desert, it spans an area of 6,301 acres and supplies power to 1 million households.

Fact 73: Solar panels in the northern hemisphere are placed facing south and the ones in the southern hemisphere are placed facing north. This allows maximum exposure of solar panel to sunlight, increasing efficiency.

Fact 74: Solar panels can work even in low sunlight conditions but the output power decreases.

Fact 75: We can use solar energy to create clean drinking water from dirty and salty water. This technique has been in use for thousands of years. We use solar energy to dry our clothes, food items, etc.

Fact 76: Solar panels generate only DC current. An inverter is used to convert it into AC current.

Fact 77: Contrary to popular opinion, Solar panels do produce pollution. This is during the manufacturing stage. Once produced, Solar Panels produce no pollution.

Fact 78: In a decade or two, we will all be having solar window panels in our homes. These panels look exactly like normal windows but generate electricity.

Fact 79: Tengger Desert Solar Plant in china is the worlds largest solar powerplant. It produces 1,547 MW of power.

Fact 80: With low manufacturing costs combined with subsidies from the government, we can get solar panels with little to no cost.

Fact 81: Sunlight takes around 9mins to reach earth. Sun is about 93 million miles( 151 million km ) away from earth. (This is an average value as the distance between the sun and earth changes every day).

Fact 82: Earth is farthest from the sun on the 4th of July, it is called Aphelion. On January 4th, the earth comes closest to the sun, it is called Perihelion.

Fact 83: Of all the existing renewable energy sources, solar energy is easiest to use. It is the most widely used renewable energy source.

Fact 84: Solar Plants change the topography of land they are built. The PV panels prevent the sunlight from reaching the ground. This alters the ecosystem of soil slightly.

Fact 85: PhotoVoltaic cells are of 3 types they are MonoCrystalline, PolyCrystalline, and Thin Film.

Fact 86: Monocrystalline cells have higher efficiency and costs more. It is made from silicon wafers. These cells are cut from single, pure silica.

Fact 87: Polycrystalline is cheaper but the efficiency is low. This is also made of silica wafers. But it is molded from melted fragments of silica crystals.

Fact 88: Thin Film Solar Panels are not made of silica but by different materials. The most common material used is Cadmium Telluride( CdTe). This material is placed between two transparent conducting layers. This is highly portable, flexible but gives the lowest efficiency of the three.

Fact 89: Amorphous Silica can also be used to make Thin Film Solar Panels. Research is going on to use  Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) to make thin-film wafers.

Fact 90: Scientists have recently developed Bifacial Solar Panels. These allow light to pass through them and the reflected light from the ground is then absorbed to achieve higher efficiencies.

Fact 91: Major companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook have switched to Solar energy for their energy needs.

Fact 92: China is the world leader in Solar Energy Production. In 2019, the world produced approximately 140 GW of solar power, of that China alone produced around 100GW.

Fact 93: Many companies are trying to design mobiles, laptops that use solar energy directly. It is rumored that Tesla might release a Solar Powered Car by 2023.

Fact 94: Researchers from HongKong University have developed self-cooling solar panels. These panels suck the moisture from the air around them and use that water as a coolant. This method increased the efficiency of PV cells by 15%.

Fact 95: Solar Energy costs around 4.3 cents per kWh even without subsidies as per the Lazards Levelized Cost Energy Analysis. That is cheaper than all other alternatives.

Fact 96: Once built, Solar plants can last as much as 50 years. It can work even longer with regular maintenance and upgrading panels once every 15 years.

Fact 97: The unique fact of Solar Plants is it can be installed in mere hours. This is especially useful during natural disasters. Other sources take years to be built unlike Solar.

Fact 98: Companies usually give a 20 -25 years guarantee for the solar panels. Economically speaking, you will get back your investment within the first 5 years. So, the next 20 years is profit for you and leads to a better environment.

Fact 99: NASA has been using Solar Energy for 50 years. It is trying to create efficient solar-powered aircraft.

Fact 100: JinkoSolar has launched solar panels which has a record output of 580MW. They are confident that they can increase it even further.

Fact 101: Iceland is completely meeting its energy needs from renewable sources. It has become a role model for other countries.

Final Thoughts

Because of its low cost and no pollution aspects, Solar energy is going to be the future of our world. Its advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, thus helping us prevent Global Warming. Most importantly, it is the only reliable and feasible way humanity has to survive.

So, let’s all go Solar and save Mother Earth.


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