Solar energy, while not a new concept, can seem a bit out there to some people. There are a lot of things that even solar users don’t know. Here’s a breakdown of some little-known things about solar energy:
1. The first solar cell was developed in 1954. It was built by Bell Laboratories and made The New York Times. The silicon solar cell was essentially the precursor of all solar-powered devices.
2. The demand for solar energy has finally reached an all-time high. Solar power abilities have increased 23 times in just the past decade. The United States is producing enough energy to power roughly 5.4 average American homes. The U.S. still falls in third as the largest solar market in the world, but is rapidly rising to become second. The demand for solar installations is on the rise. China is currently the world’s leading solar producer, and they’re even seeking to triple capacity by 2020.
3. One of the first major industries to start using solar was the space industry. Solar energy was used to provide the on-board power to spacecraft. The first official satellite to function on solar power was the Vanguard 1. This satellite is the oldest man-made satellite still in orbit.
4. Pricing is only going down for solar power. It’s increasingly becoming a more economical way to power homes and businesses. Some states offer tax credits, or green house funding, for going more green in newer construction or going solar.
5. The largest operating solar thermal energy plant is in California in the Mojave Desert. The Ivanpah Solar Power Facility uses concentrating solar power technology to convert power. This plant only came online in 2014 and has a unique feature that allows the solar energy to be stored for use after the sun sets. This has been a huge focus in recent solar research and development efforts. This is important as it helps prevent over delivering solar power, and gets the power to where it’s needed.
6. Solar power produces zero pollution. Not even noise pollution.
7. Just one household rooftop solar system can reduce CO2 pollution by 100 tons in the system’s lifetime. This also takes into consideration the energy that was required to manufacture said solar panels.
While the demand for more solar energy has risen, the cost of solar panels has dropped, by nearly 80 percent. Solar panel warranty has reached 25 years for some products. Solar energy is only getting more efficient and more affordable, as the industry is rapidly growing.