Taking action against climate change requires taking a new look at how we produce and use energy. Switching to clean and renewable energy sources, like solar power, is one of the more powerful choices anyone can make as it reduces society’s dependency on oil, gas, and coal.
In our desire to share the great benefits of solar energy, we’ve assembled a handy list of exciting facts about solar energy. We hope these 7 things about solar energy that you may not have known will inspire you to learn even more about the power of solar:
- Solar energy is the world’s most abundant energy resource. The earth, after all, never stops rotating around the sun, meaning that an astounding 173,000 terawatts of solar energy is striking Earth at any given moment. This is over 10,000 times our total combined energy use, thereby making it possible for solar energy to power all of our energy needs.
- Spacecrafts have been utilizing solar energy since the 1950s. Harnessing the renewable energy of the sun is an obvious benefit to spacecraft. But did you know that solar cells are so effective that the Vanguard 1, which launched in 1958, was using the first solar cells to power its transmitting, sensor, and propulsion operations as it orbited around the Earth. The Juno mission (launched in 2011 and expected to reach Jupiter in 2016) was also equipped with solar panels for all of its power applications.
- The world’s largest solar energy project is in construction in California’s Mojave Desert. This record-breaking project will boast an astounding 350,000 mirrors at completion. These mirrors are designed to reflect solar energy onto boilers. These boilers will use steam to rotate turbines and create electricity. It’s anticipated that such electricity will provide clean, renewable energy for more than 140,000 homes.
- Falling prices of solar technology means that solar energy is increasingly becoming the homeowner’s most economical energy choice. Since 1977, the price of solar panels has dropped 100 times over. This means they’re on average half the price as they were 40 years ago and becoming cheaper every year. Today, the biggest hurdles for homeowners and businesses is the soft costs, like zoning, permitting, and hooking. But even these related costs are significantly dropping as the Energy Department and local energy companies work together to offset prices through tax breaks and other special incentives.
- Solar energy pays for itself. Again and again.A recent study by California economists in home resale value found that even with the most expensive solar panel installation, homeowners could expect to recoup approximately 97 percent of their installation costs. In contrast, a luxury kitchen remodel only brings a 60 percent payback. But not only can homeowners expect a return on their investment in regards to their home’s value, but they also enjoy reduced annual energy bills. Even conservative estimates state that using solar energy can cut your costs by 50 percent or more.
- The demand for solar energy is at an all-time high. With the two aforementioned facts, it should come as no surprise that the demand for solar energy has never been higher. The United States in on track to complete its one millionthsolar system installation in 2015. That’s a 36 percent increase in PV installation from 2014. From the individual homeowner to the utility companies, it seems everyone is on board with going solar.
- Solar energy means job growth. Since 2010, the number of people employed in the solar industry has increased 86 percent with approximately 174,000 workers There are now more people working in the solar energy than in coal mining.