There’s been a lot of buzz about solar panel technology of late. You may have heard rumblings about it back in the 2000s, or even the 90s. But it’s in recent memory when solar has come into its own.
Still, even with all that talk, there might be a lot about it that you don’t know. To that point, here are some facts about solar energy that you might not know.
1. It’s Older Than You Think
When solar panels first started to rise to prominence, naysayers dismissed them as a fad, as they often do with new technology. If they’d known that the technology wasn’t new at all, they might have thought differently.
In actuality, the first commercial solar panel was produced by Bell Laboratories way back in 1954. And the technology it was based on was a hundred years older than that, dating back to the discovery of the photovoltaic effect in 1839.
So solar panels were always far from a fad. Rather, they’ve had a long history of refinement and reiteration to reach the point that they’re at now.
2. One Hour of Sunlight Could Power the Planet for a Year
The sun is the most abundant energy source available on earth. Our nearest star is a gigantic nuclear furnace, building hydrogen into helium and producing cosmic levels of light and heat in the process.
In one hour, 430 quintillion Joules of energy strikes the earth. That’s 430 followed by 18 zeroes, help you visualize how big that number is.
By contrast, humans only use about 410 quintillion Joules of energy per year. So hypothetically, one hour of direct sunlight could power all of human civilization for a year and still have power left over.
3. It Can Pay for Itself
One of the most attractive features of residential solar panels is the energy savings that they promise.
While some homeowners might be put off by the upfront installation cost, they would do well to think in the long term. A sufficient solar array can wipe out your annual heating and power bill altogether. Take your average annual energy bill to estimate solar savings on a yearly basis, and you’ll be able to figure out just how quickly your panels will pay for themselves.
4. It’s the Cheapest Source of Energy in the World
It shouldn’t be surprising how quickly your home solar array can pay for itself considering that solar energy is the cheapest source of electricity in the world.
While fossil fuels once reigned supreme because those fuels were cheaper, the steep decline in solar technology has caused the opposite to become the case. According to one report, the cost of solar infrastructure has dropped by 90% in the last decade.
And since the sunlight that powers them is free, the cost of the infrastructure amounts to almost the total cost of the power generated. By contrast, fueling a coal-firing plant amounts to 40% of the total operating cost.
All of that taken into account, it becomes obvious why solar would be the most cost-effective power source.
Solar Panel Technology Is Integral to Our Future
As the 21st-century advances, it’s clear our reliance on fossil fuels cannot continue. Even setting aside climate change, fuel supplies are finite. And at our current rate of consumption, they’ll run out sooner rather than later.
Solar panel technology is one of our most promising solutions to this conundrum. With the promised benefits of solar energy, we can expect it to become a part of daily life in the immediate future.
But it’s only one technology that might power our future. To stay up-to-date with emerging advances in energy, be sure to keep up with all our latest tech news.