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Solar energy

Solar Energy Facts

Solar Energy Facts

The power of the Sun is the main source of clean and renewable energy available for us here on the planet, and in order to reduce the level of harmful emissions released into the atmosphere while burning fossil fuels, we need to increase the generation capacity for solar and other sources of renewable energy.

Solar Energy Definition

Solar energy can be defined as a major source of renewable and green energy provided by the Sun, which can be harvested using photovoltaic solar cells that are converting the sunlight into electricity or large mirrors that are reflecting the sunlight towards a central tower where an agent (molten salt or oil) is heated to produce steam that will spin a turbine to generate clean electricity.

Facts About Solar Energy

1. Solar cells produce electricity using the sunlight

Solar panels or solar modules are producing electricity by converting the sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic solar cells.

2. Photovoltaic solar cells produce electricity by converting the sunlight through the “photovoltaic effect”

The photovoltaic effect is a physical and chemical phenomenon, which creates voltage and electricity into a material due to the exposure to sunlight or other light source.

3. Silicon is the most common material used to produce photovoltaic solar cells.

There are two main types of solar cells, mono and polycrystalline.

Monocrystalline solar cells are produced from a single ingot of silicon with high purity, while polycrystalline solar cells are produced from melted pieces of silicon, which makes them more affordable, but slightly less efficient.

4. The Sun generates a huge amount of energy, heat and light

Our star generates a huge amount of energy, heat and light every second, due to the presence of the nuclear fusion reaction of hydrogen in its core.

Through the fusion reaction, hydrogen is converted into helium with energy release, and hydrogen will feed the nuclear reaction in our Sun for another 4 to 5 billion years, which means that we can harvest this free source of clean and renewable energy for a very long period of time.

5. A solar PV system can cover the monthly consumption of electricity of any U.S. household

A typical U.S. household consumes each year about 11,700 kWh, which means that the monthly consumption of electricity is around 1,000 kWh.

To cover this consumption using solar energy we need a pretty large solar PV system (8 kW system) installed on the rooftop or in the yard.

The 8 KW Solar PV system will generate in average about 40 kWh/day to cover the household consumption.
Such a large solar PV system will use a number of 32 solar modules (250 W) that will cover a pretty generous area on your rooftop or in the yard.

6. Solar energy can power all appliances in your home

Solar energy can be used to power all the appliances inside your house, even an AC unit or a water heater.

The only thing to do is to know what is your daily consumption and what are the major consumers inside the house to properly configure your Solar PV system.

7. Solar can cover the energy consumption of the U.S. covering an area of 21,250 square miles with PV moduels

According to this source, in order to cover the energy consumption of the U.S. which is about 4 petawatts (4×1015) per year, we need to cover with solar panels an area of 21,250 square miles.

However, another report released by stays that only rooftop solar can cover about 34% of all U.S. electricity consumption for one year.

Solar Energy and the Environment

1. Solar power is clean

Solar power is considered today some of the cleanest sources of electricity available on the planet, and also a source of renewable energy that is friendly with the environment.

Solar panels are not affecting wildlife because they are only shading the soil if they are installed close to the ground and not on the rooftop, but they are not affecting birds or bats like the vertical axis wind turbines.

2. Solar power does not pollute

Solar energy does not produce any form of pollution (air, water, soil or sound pollution), which means that we can use this form of power to replace the energy produced by dirty fossil fuels.

3. Solar can reduce your carbon footprint

A household using a solar PV system will significantly reduce its carbon footprint, which means that the owner of the house is contributing to reduce the level of global warming and climate change on the planet.

4. Solar can turn you into a gree person

A person using solar power will become a free and green person because besides producing its own energy, will turn into a protector of the environment.

Solar Panels Cost

1. The price of solar panels drops every year

The price of solar PV panels has significantly dropped in the last decade (compared to 2008), which means that today almost anyone can install on the rooftop of its house at least a small solar PV system to power some of its appliances with free and clean energy.

2. Solar is now more affordable

Today, the cost of solar PV has dropped to $0.10 per kWh, which means that renewable energy is becoming affordable for a larger category of consumers.

3. The average cost of a solar installation is between $11,000 and $15,000 after tax credits

The average price per W (watt) of solar panels installed ranges from $2.67 to $3.43, and an average installation in the U.S. can range between $11,000 and less than $15,000 after applying tax credits.

4. A solar PV system produces free and clean energy

A solar panel system installed at home is a source of free and clean electricity that requires almost no maintenance.

What you need to do is to keep the panels as clean as possible all the time to ensure a maximal production of electricity for your solar PV system.

5. Today we can lease a solar PV system

If you don’t want to buy a solar PV system, but you want to use solar energy to lower your energy bills, you can lease the PV system.
This means that you will sign a power purchase agreement (PPA), and the PV system will be owned by a third party.

This also means that the tax credits, rebates, or incentives will belong to the owner of the system, which is the third party, and not you.

To maximize the financial benefits provided by a solar PV system, you should buy the system or finance it using a solar loan.

6. Solar increases the value of your home

A solar PV system installed on the rooftop of your house will increase the value of your property on the real estate market.

Solar Energy Availability

1. Several areas of the plant are not suited for solar

There are areas on the planet very suited for solar power generation as well as we have areas that are not suited for solar energy, but are very good for producing clean energy from other sources of renewable energy such as wind power.

2. California is the main U.S. state in terms of solar power generation

In the U.S., the state of California is considered the number one state for solar power generation, and is followed by North Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, New Jersey, and Utah.

3. You qualify for solar if your area receives a decent number of sun hours

To qualify for solar power generation, an area needs to receive a large number of peak sun hours during the day.

A peak sun-hour is defined as an hour of sunlight providing 1,000 watts of photovoltaic power per square meter.
Peak sun-hour occur only when the Sun is highest in the sky, which means that the intensity of sunlight is also the highest.

To properly benefit from using a solar panel system, the area where you live needs to receive at least 4 hours of peak sunlight per day.

4. Solar panels are produced today mainly in Asia

Solar panels are mostly produced today in Asia (China and India), because only this way we can bring the price of solar to a more affordable level.

At the same time, the technology used to turn the sunlight into clean electricity is evolving, and the latest solar cells are producing clean electricity with an increased efficiency, which means that more sunlight is turned into electricity than before.

We can decrease the area covered by solar panels by increasing the efficiency of the panels.

5. The largest solar power plant in the world today is located in India

The largest solar power plant in the world today is the Bhadla Solar Park located in India (Bhadla, Phalodi tehsil, Jodhpur district, Rajasthan) with an output of 2,245 MW.

To generate such a large amount of solar energy, the solar farm covers an area of 40 km2.

The second largest solar power plant in the world and the number two solar farm in India is the Pavagada Solar Park in Karnataka, India, and has a peak output of 2050 MW.

The largest solar power plants in the world today with a generation capacity of at least 1 GW are all located in Asia (China and India).

However, in 2019, Africa has entered the “solar energy world” by building a solar superpower plant (Benban Solar Park) in the city of Aswan (southern Egypt).

This massive solar park has a peak output of 1.65 GW and covers an area of 37 km2 with a number of 200,000 solar PV panels and 780 sun trackers that are allowing the solar panels to face the sun throughout the day.

Final Conclusion

Solar energy can be considered a gift for us provided by the univers.
Our star can help us get rid of the dirty fossil fuels used today on a large scale for energy, heat generation and fuels production.

It is true that a solar PV system that can reduce your energy bills to zero is still expensive today, because the amount of at least $10,000 paid for such a solar panel system is only available to a small number of people.

Let’s not forget that in countries like China and India where we have almost half of the world population, solar energy is not an affordable option for the masses due to the high price of the panels.

However, in a couple of years from now on, solar could become way more affordable and more efficient than today, and this could be the chance of solar energy to show that the power of the Sun can be a good alternative to coal, oil, and natural gas for a cleaner and healthier environment for all of us.

Article written by:

I write about the renewable energy sector, electric cars and climate change issues. I love nature and good food, so I travel all over the world to see new places and meet new people. Magda Savin

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