Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Facts about Solar Power

  1. Solar energy is a term used for describing a range of methods for obtaining energy from the sun. Many people immediately think about solar panels when hearing solar energy but wind, biomass and hydro power are all forms of solar energy. Wind develops through highs and lows in temperature. Wind drives waves. Rainfall, created by sun-warmed evaporated water feeds the rivers that are sources for hydro power.
  2. In the late 15th century Leonardo Da Vinci already conceived of an industrial use of solar power by employing concave mirrors to heat water.
  3. William Adams first discovered solar power cells in 1876.
  4. In the 1830's, the British astronomer John Herschel used a solar collector box to cook food during an expedition to Africa.
  5. As early as 1921, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded for experiments with solar power and photovoltaics. It was awarded to Albert Einstein.
  6. In 1952, David Chaplin and other employees at Bell Labs discovered silicon made solar cells much more efficient.
  7. In the late 1950s, NASA started using solar cells as a power source in space.
  8. In 1983, 21 total megawatts of solar power producing cells were installed worldwide.
  9. By 2004, 927 megawatts of solar power producing cells were installed worldwide.
  10. In 35 states, you are allowed to run the power produced by your solar power system back into the utilities grid. Known as net metering, this allows you to sell your solar power to the utility, more or less eliminating your electrical bill and saving you thousands of dollars over the years.
  11. With the “Million Solar Roofs Initiative”, the U.S. Department of Energy hopes to have one million solar power homes and buildings in the United States by 2010.
  12. Solar power demand is growing at 25 percent a year, while utility energy demand is flat.
  13. There is enough sunlight that falls on the Earth's surface every hour to meet the overall world energy demand for an entire year. Why waste energy when you can reuse the abundance we receive every hour?
  14. Solar power panels are 15 percent efficient at converting sunlight to energy. Plants on your lawn are 3 percent efficient.
  15. When silicon is taken from just one ton of sand, and used in photovoltaic solar power panels, that silicon can produce as much electricity as 500,000 tons of burning coal. Silicon is the second most common element in the earth’s crust (after oxygen).
  16. Germany is the fastest growing solar market, followed by Japan. The U.S. is the third.
  17. Schools and colleges throughout the country are currently converting to solar power as a way to reduce power costs.
  18. It takes only about 8 minutes for solar energy to travel from the sun to the earth.
  19. Homeowners qualifying for Fannie Mae, FHA and VHA mortgages can get benefits from lenders for going solar under the Energy Improvement Mortgage or Energy Efficient Mortgage Programs.
  20. Once installed, solar panel systems require no maintenance and should last 30 to 40 years.
  21. Solar panel systems come with 20 to 30 year warranties.
  22. Third world countries with an abundance of sunlight and a population currently without electricity, represents the fastest growing market for solar energy, with the largest domestic market being the utilities sector.
  23. Shell Oil predicts that 50% of the world's energy will come from renewable sources by 2040.
Sources: Dan Chiras, 2006. The Homeowner's Guide to Renewable Energy. ISBN-10: 086571536X, weirfacts.com