You’ve heard that solar power is the wave of the future and seen the panels on the top of roofs. Being a clean and renewable energy source, it’s been known that solar has taken time for the price of the technology to come down. We all know that the sun could provide tremendous power, but here are 12 things you may not know about the technology brought to you by National Geographic.
1. If we could capture all the energy from the sun that hits Earth’s surface, it would provide over 6,000 times enough power to meet the world’s predicted needs in 2020.
2. It was originally discovered in 1839 that certain materials produced an electric current when exposed to light. Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel, a French physicist, discovered the phenomenon while working with metal electrodes in an electrolyte solution, but was completely baffled by his findings.
3. In 1954, researchers from Bell Labs working on the first photovoltaic cell were originally trying to achieve a new source of power for telephone systems. They were looking to discover a power source that would not degrade in humid areas.
4. As of 2011, Germany has the most solar power installed with 17,192 megawatts. Spain comes in second with 3,784 megawatts followed by the United States at 2,528.
5. California is the leading state with the most solar power installed followed by New Jersey. Strong state policies in New Jersey encouraging renewable energy are responsible for the rapid growth of solar installs in the eastern state.
6. The United States produced only 6% of the solar panels sold in 2010. China led the way with 51% of the market followed by Germany with 10%. Interesting since the birthplace of solar technology belongs to the US.
7. Photovoltaic solar energy is the only type of electricity generation that doesn’t require moving parts. The panels do require a little bit of water to keep the surfaces clean.
8. The essential component in rooftop solar panel systems is the inverter. Its responsible for converting the direct current produced by the solar panel into the alternating current required in our households.
9. The International Space Station is constructed with solar arrays that are visible from Earth. They are the largest deployable space structures ever built. They can produce a whopping 100 kilowatts. This is enough to power 42 homes.
10. Concentrating solar plants don’t utilize photovoltaic cells to produce electricity. They use mirrors or lenses to focus the sun’s rays from a wide area to boil water and turn turbines.
11. The US Energy Information Administration estimated the cost of new solar generation fell 47% in 2011.
12. Scientists are working on creating thinner materials capable of creating solar power, including solar paint. Companies aim to lower costs by allowing customers to design and order online.
Solar technology continues to advance while the prices have consistently fallen. Imagine not having an electricity bill each month. We are at a time where this is completely possible. Most solar companies will give you a free quote on a system for your home, and you can also get federal tax credits for installing a one. Be the first person in your neighborhood to install a solar system to save money and make your neighbors jealous.