Knowledge Is Power
Sunlight has sustained life on our planet since the beginning of our time. While the modern term “solar energy” often refers to solar panels, photovoltaic cells or energy obtained from solar power, the term is defined as “all energy derived from the sun’s radiation”. It can be harnessed and converted into practical applications through modern technology such as solar panels.
Solar energy is a renewable source of energy (unlike fossil fuels), and it can be used to heat and cool homes, heat water, and power cars, appliances, tools, and gadgets galore. In honor of the myriad of uses for our life-sustaining ball of fire, here are 25 solar energy facts that you can use to impress guests at your next dinner party!
Solar Is Spacey
“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
- Solar energy travels for 93,000,000 miles from the sun to the earth in 8 minutes and 19 seconds.
- The amount of solar energy that hits the earth each hour is enough to provide the energy needs of earth’s entire population for a full year.
- Approximately 50% of the sun’s energy is absorbed by the earth’s surface, while nearly 20% is absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere and clouds. Another almost 30% is reflected from the earth’s surface. Therefore, it is estimated that we are only harnessing 0.01% of the sun’s energy for productive use.
- In 1447, Leonardo Da Vinci predicted that there would be a solar industrialization.
- The fastest growing market for solar energy is in Third World Countries that have an abundance of sunlight and a population without electricity.
Solar Is Global
“If you wish to understand the Universe, think of energy, frequency and vibration.”
- China is the world leader in renewable energy. The United States comes in second.
- Solar lighting is preferred when the need is temporary, such as fairs, mining sites, the Olympics, or new real estate developments.
- Solar lights provide security in poorly-lit areas where access to grid power is challenging, such as parks and parking lots.
- Solar energy contributes to the completion of the water cycle. The earth, oceans and atmosphere absorb solar radiation, and as the temperatures rise, the warm air rises from the oceans, causing convection. When this air rises to higher altitudes, clouds form, and pour rain water back to the earth.
- Horticulture and agriculture use solar energy by using techniques such as timing planting cycles and mixing plant varieties. Green houses are also used to convert light into heat to promote year round cultivation of special crops.
Solar Is Money
“All peoples everywhere should have free energy sources.”
- The oil crisis of 1970 revealed the delicate nature of fossil fuels as a source of energy for the world. In researching renewable energy alternatives, solar and wind energy gained momentum and popularity.
- Space missions conducted by various countries use solar energy to power their spaceships.
- Homes with solar energy in the United States hover at somewhere under the 1% mark of the total. However, the solar industry is projected to grow by 20-40% per year for the next 10 years.
- In some areas, as much as 90% of the cost of a residential solar power system can be offset by rebates and solar energy credits.
- A sunny location receives an average of 5.5 hours of sunlight per day each year. A cloudy location receives 2.5 hours per day of sunlight each year.
- In the life span of a solar system, the average New Yorker will save $31,166; the average Floridian $33,284; and the average Texan $20,960. That’s only if their solar systems don’t last more than 20 years; however, systems on the market today are designed to last for 30 years, which would dramatically increase savings over time.
- If we add the amount of solar energy that is absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, land, and oceans, we would end up with approximately 3,850,000 EJ (exajoules or 10^18 joules) each year. To put it in more understandable terms, this amount of energy is equivalent to 8,000 times the total energy consumption of the entire world.
- According to astrophysics, the Sun was born about 4.57 billion years ago and has another 6-7 billion years before its fuel is exhausted and it becomes a white dwarf. Luckily this will not happen for another 5 billion years.
- The Greeks and Romans were the first to use solar energy in their designs, by building south facing windows in their homes that allowed the sun to heat and light indoor spaces. The Native Americans, ancient Chinese, Greeks, Romans, and pueblo peoples harnessed the sun to heat their homes in various other ways.
Solar Is Health
“Solar power is not about fashion. It’s about survival.”
–Sir Norman Foster
- Our bodies use solar energy to create Vitamin D by converting a pre-form of Vitamin D on our skin when it is hit by the ultraviolet energy from the sun.
- Solar panels first appeared on the market in 1956.
- Space programs started using photovoltaic powered systems in 1958. They are still used today.
- One of the most advanced uses of sunlight in Ancient Egypt was for religious practices. Imhotep, a High Priest of the Sun God Ra, used a special type of papyrus and a mixture of carious herbs, minerals, and sage to help capture sunlight much in the same way that we use solar panels today.
- Plants use the sun’s energy to power a chemical reaction called photosynthesis, which converts to air, water and other nutrients so that the plant can grow and bloom. When we eat natural foods, fruits, and vegetables, we are consuming calories that were generated by the sun’s energy.
- Solar energy can purify water. This property of solar energy may have been known by the Ancient Greeks, and was practiced by Persian alchemists in the 1500s. Another process that uses solar energy to purify water of contamination is called solar distillation.
Harness the Power of the Sun for Yourself
Solar energy is a life force for every living being on our planet. To learn other interesting solar energy facts or to find out how you can be a part of this movement towards sustainability, feel free to contact us.