Harness the Sun: 10 Fun Facts about Solar Power
Over 2 million Australian households are currently utilizing solar power.
Solar power adoption has been on the rise, and for good reason. It allows us to reduce our carbon footprint in addition to substantially cutting down the costs of power.
In fact, Australian homes that have rooftop solar are saving an average of $540 every year on energy bills.
So, do you want to go solar? The following are some solar power basics that you should know.
Solar Power Basics
Solar power refers to the energy that is generated from sunlight. This is achieved through a process known as the photovoltaic effect which converts the sun’s rays into electricity which then powers our household technologies.
The good thing about solar is that it promotes sustainability and is affordable. Setting up a solar system is also easy.
A solar energy system is installed on your roof. This system consists of solar panels that capture the sun’s rays, an inverter that converts the energy into electricity, and a rack for holding the system in position.
Now that we know the basics, let us look at some interesting facts.
1. Solar Technology Can Trace its Roots as Far Back as 7BCE
While it might look like a recent invention, humans have been harnessing the sun’s energy for millennia. At that time, they used glass and mirrors to harness that energy to make fire. The technology has come a long way since then.
2. The First Solar Panel Cell Was Created in 1941
The photovoltaic effect – the process through which the sun’s rays are converted to electric current – was discovered in 1839 by Frenchman Alexandre Edmond Becquerel. He was only 19 years old at the time.
It was this discovery that enabled Russell Ohl to develop the first solar panel cell in 1941. The first commercial panel, however, came later in 1954 and was produced by Bell Laboratories.
Solar power history is still being created, as 4wd Supacentre continues to install industry-leading panels every day.
3. The Amount of Sunlight that Strikes the Surface of the earth for Just One Hour Has Enough Energy to Power the World Economy for a Whole Year
That is just a taste of how much potential the sun’s energy has. If we were able to harness just one hour’s worth of the sun’s energy that reaches the earth, we would not worry about power for an entire year.
4. Solar Energy Systems Can Produce Electricity Without Direct Sunlight
While direct sunlight is ideal for optimal power production by solar cells, it does not mean that you are doomed during cloudy days. This is because solar panels are designed to capture different sections of the sun’s light spectrum.
Thus, on days when the sun’s rays are not directly beaming on your solar cells, they can still capture some hues to convert into power.
5. There are Two Methods of Capturing Solar Energy
In the solar power industry, the most commonly utilized system is the photovoltaic system. As mentioned earlier, this system can directly convert solar rays into electricity.
This process is enabled by photovoltaic cells. These sells are usually made out of semiconductor material such as silicone. Upon hitting the semiconductor, the sun’s rays become usable energy.
The other, but less commonly known system, is known as concentrating solar power.
Here, the power production devices utilize mirrors to focus the sun’s rays to heat up a liquid such as water. The heated fluid subsequently releases steam, which is used to power a steam turbine.
These turbines are what eventually produce electricity.
6. Solar Power Technology Has Been Applied in Space
When NASA was making its first ventures in space, it utilized solar panels on its satellites. In 1958, the first solar-powered satellite was released in space, followed by three others later in the same year.
This satellite was christened the “Vanguard 1.” It marked the first use of solar technology in space.
Vanguard 1 is still active.
7. Solar Cells Can Fuel Planes
While NASA’s application of solar power is admittedly hard to beat, one can still appreciate that today’s vehicles can run on solar power. This is because, for a long time, solar technology was limited to powering homes and offices.
Today, however, even airplanes can utilize the technology to fuel their needs. When this application becomes the norm, traveling expenses are expected to drop significantly.
8. A Solar Power System Can Last for Up to 30 years
When you request a solar power installation, the installer typically gives you a 20-year warranty on the system. Nonetheless, this does not mean that the plant becomes worthless after that term is over.
Solar panels do not have moving parts; as such, they are not as susceptible to wear and tear.
Thus, with proper maintenance, they can last for very long. Besides, once you have installed the infrastructure, replacing the old cells for newer technologies is quite cheap.
9. Solar is the Easiest and Fastest Source of Energy to Deploy
In the event of a disaster, no source of electricity is as easy to deploy or repair as solar. This because solar energy systems do not require vast and complex infrastructures such as hydro- or wind-powered systems.
This was evidenced after the hurricanes in Puerto Rico where Tesla and company built small solar power plants in just weeks that were able to provide power to the island.
This kind of feat would not be possible were other power generating technologies to be utilized.
10. Solar Power is the Cleanest Energy Source
In its power generating efforts, solar panels do not produce any greenhouse gases. This cannot be said for other power-generating systems.
Moreover, unlike hydro-power which has a significant impact on the landscape-altering waterways and creating dams which affect entire ecosystems -, solar power production is harmless.
Hopefully, you have learnt the solar power basics and more!
Solar power has for long been deemed as the energy of the future. This was because the technologies used were quite expensive, thus making it difficult for the average household to install a system on their roof.
However, solar power systems are much more affordable today. Getting one will not only allow you to make cash savings but will also help you contribute towards earth’s sustainability.
Want to make an impact on the planet? Check out this blog to see how solar power can change the world.