There are two types of solar energy technology that are currently used: Photovoltaic and Thermal.
Photovoltaic Energy is created when sunlight photons hit a solar panel, knocking electrons in the material loose and creating an electrical current.
Solar Thermal Energy is turning out to be much easier to harness. We all know the sun gives off heat, so harnessing that heat via collectors and using it to power solar-powered electricity plants, roof-mounted hot water heaters and solar pool warmers.
Solar Panels Facts
- Solar Panels are considered to be somewhat inefficient as they can only convert about 20% of the sunlight they are presented.
- By comparison, a gasoline engine is about 18% efficient and a diesel engine is nearly 50% efficient.
- Solar panels will not reach grid parity — matching the cost of current energy production — until it reaches $1 per watt to build panels.
- Some estimates put solar panels output at about 10 watts per square foot.
- Solar panels cost about $4 per watt plus installation costs, which can raise the total price to $6-12 per watt
- A highly-efficient solar panel (one square meter in size ) can produce up to 1.4 kWh/ day depending on location.
- Depending where you live, you may need more solar panels to account for shorter days and less sun.
Interesting Solar Energy Facts
- The photovoltaic properties of certain silicones were discovered in 1954 by Bell Laboratories. The first functional photovoltaic panels were developed for use on satellites.
- The world’s largest solar energy station is currently in Sarnia, Canada. It has an 80 megawatt capacity. This is in the process of being overshadowed by a Mojave, California project that should produce over 500 Megawatts per year once completed.
- In the 15th century, Leonardo Di Vinci was one of the first to design an industrial use for the sun. He designed a system of concave mirrors to heat water.
- About 50% of that sunlight reaches earth and is absorbed by its surface. Approximately 30% of the sunlight is reflected back by the earth’s surface.
- About 1,366 watts per square meter of energy reaches the earth atmosphere. Depending on location, about 1,000 watts per square meter reaches the ground per hour.
Fun Solar Energy Facts For Kids
- In one hour, enough sunlight strikes the Earth to provide the entire planet’s energy needs for one year.
- Fossil Fuel is a form of stored solar energy. Biomass that formerly used Solar energy has been changed into fuel by earth’s geologic activity.
- One Million Earths could fit inside of the the Sun
- Sunlight takes 8.3 minutes to reach earth’s outer atmosphere