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20 Really Awesome Facts about Solar Power

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I love discovering new facts about pretty much anything.  Any day I can learn something is an awesome day.  Any day I can learn something new about light, it’s an even better day!

Here’s 20 Really Awesome Facts about Solar Power!

  1. The first working, practical, usable solar cell was created by Bell Laboratories in 1954.  It only produced 1 Watt of energy for $250/Watt.  Now that’s Cost INeffective!
  2. Photovoltaic (PV) cells made from the silicon in 1 ton of sand can produce as much electricity as burning 500,000 tons of coal in a power plant.  Why are we burning coal again?
  3. Light that comes from the Sun takes approximately 8 minutes and 20 seconds to hit the Earth.  How’s that for light speed?  Wacka wacka!
  4. In the state of California, if we covered every available commercial and industrial roof with solar power panels, ALL of California’s electricity demand could be generated during the daytime, forever.
  5. A few hundred years ago while traveling to Africa, a scientist named John Herschel created a cooker using the Sun to cook food, inventing the first Solar Cooker.
  6. The first traceable use of the Sun as a tool was back in 700 BC, when people learned how to concentrate the Sun’s rays with the use of a magnifying glass of sorts.  As a kid I always felt terrible about the thought of burning ants, which is probably why I never joined the Military!
  7. In 1981, a man named Paul Macready produced the first solar powered plane — Paul’s plane used more than 1600 solar cells mounted on its wings.  Paul Macready flew from France to England.
  8. 2012 was an unbelievable year for massive solar collection plants.  The largest solar energy plant is the Golmud Solar Park in China, with an installed capacity of 200 megawatts.  Arguably, this is surpassed by India’s Gujarat Solar Park, a collection of solar farms scattered around the Gujarat region with a combined installed capacity of 605 megawatts.
  9. There are two types of Solar Panels for use in commercial and residential applications — Photovoltaic panels and Solar Thermal panels.  PV panels work by converting the Sun’s rays to electricity, and Solar Thermal panels work by absorbing the Sun’s heat energy to warm up water by circulating the water through it.
  10. Solar collection on its own is a carbon neutral, pollution-free method of collecting and generating energy.  The only carbon creating part of solar power is the manufacture of Solar Panels and the accessories that go into building a solar panel system.
  11. In one hour, the Sun provides more energy to Earth than the whole world uses all year.  Approximately 120,000 terawatts (TW) hit the Earth’s surface each day.  Over the course of a year, the world only uses 15 TW of energy.
  12. The diameter of our Sun is 1,392,000 kilometers across while Earth is just 12,756 kilometers across.  Earth is 109 times smaller than our Sun, and our Sun can hold over a million Earths (that is if we didn’t become like the bits at the bottom of the pan of bacon before we got all of the one million in there).
  13. In only 20 days, the Sun could match the power of all of the world’s resource stockpiles of oil, coal, and natural gas.  Why are we ruining our world with crap energy sources again?
  14. Regardless of the completely negative and destructive effects of continuous usage of oil, coal, and natural gas in the world’s countries, human civilization is very slow to adopt Solar Power to replace even one of the non-renewable energy sources.  As of September 2012, only 0.05% of the world’s power comes from Solar sources.  Doesn’t that disgust you?
  15. Of all the Solar energy that strikes Earth, only 50% is absorbed by Earth while 30% of it is reflected back into space.
  16. To date, the most efficiency that solar power manufacturers can reach is barely 47.12%.  So for all of the sunlight that burns down onto a solar panel, at best there will only be around 40% converted.  This is also a best-case scenario, and the actual percentage is considerably lower based on many factors.  Typically, efficacy of Solar panel technology is around 15%.
  17. Production of 1 kilowatt of solar energy is equivalent to burning 170 pounds of coal which releases 300 pounds of carbon dioxide.  This is comparable to preventing 15 gallons of gas from ever being used!
  18. If you cover 10,000 square miles of land in the Southwest United States, it would generate enough power to meet the energy needs of the entire country!  To silence the anti-Solar power whiners on the Internet, the US has strip-mined at least that amount for coal.  No wonder the environment is slipping.
  19. As of October 2012, Germany is using Solar power with the most fervor, followed by China.
  20. The real kicker — all current fossil fuels are just stored versions of Solar energy!

Have a great day, everyone!

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Thanks to Going Green, All Purpose Guru, Wikipedia on John Herschel, Solar Gadgets, USDoE, Explore Green Tech, St. Gobain Solar, Green Building, Renewable Power News, and International Energy Association!