Solar energy is energy that radiates from the sun. The sun has produced this energy for over four and a half billion years. It is one of — if not THE — most important source of energy for all living organisms. Additionally, it is also a form of renewable energy unlike fossil fuels, which are nonrenewable and releases harmful emissions into the environment. Nonrenewable energy, by definition, are energy sources that cannot be replaced by natural means on a level that is equal to its consumption.
Here are 10 awesome facts about solar energy that might just surprise you:
1. It’s Now the Cheapest Energy Source in the World
Solar energy is a completely free and abundant source of energy, and is officially the cheapest form of electricity currently available.1 This development completely debunks the common myth that going solar is expensive. Not only is it the cheapest energy source in the world, but qualified homeowners can save money every month when a system installed on their roof or property with affordable financial products and solar energy rebates and incentives.
2. It’s Among the Cleanest Energy Sources
A main benefit of solar energy is that it is environmentally friendly and one of the cleanest, most sustainable renewable energies available to us. Solar energy, also referred to as Photovoltaic (PV) Energy, has no impact on the environment. Solar power is one of the most common forms of renewable energy, as well as one of the most widely studied. It requires little maintenance and is relatively easy to install.
5 Other Clean Renewable Energy Sources:
3. There Is Enough Solar Energy to Power Millions of American Homes
The demand for solar in the United States is higher than ever before. The US installed 10.6 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV capacity in 2017, totaling 53.3 gigawatts (GW) which is, according to SEIA studies, enough to power 10.1 million American homes.2 The total installed PV capacity is anticipated to more than double in the U.S. over the next five years, with over 15 GW of PV capacity expected to be installed by 2023.
4. It’s the Most Abundant Energy Source on Earth
Solar energy is the world’s most abundant resource. 173,000 terawatts of solar energy hits the Earth on a continuous loop — that’s more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use.3 Switching to solar is the best way to combat any future energy crisis.
5. California Is the Leader of Solar Energy in the United States
California is America’s renewable energy pioneer, with over 11% of its total electricity 4 coming from renewable energy like wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and small hydroelectric facilities. The Golden State has continually been the top state for total solar PV capacity, which shouldn’t come as a surprise.
6. It Helps to Preserve the Environment
While solar energy provides significant financial benefits — like electricity savings and increased property value — it also provides many substantial health and environmental benefits, which are equally as important. Additionally, switching to clean energy is a great option for homeowners that want to reduce their carbon footprint.
7. It Protects You from Rising Energy Costs
The electricity rates from your utility company are on the rise every single year, with data to back it up.
With the historical trend of electricity prices rising, you can protect yourself against soaring electricity prices by switching to solar and locking in predictable monthly rates. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), retail residential electricity rates have risen about 4% across the nation over the last 10 years.5
8. There Are Two Ways to Capture Solar Energy
Solar energy needs to be converted into solar power and ultimately, usable electricity. Solar panels do this by collecting the sun’s rays and converting the energy to electricity. There are two common methods used to harness the sun’s energy:
- Solar photovoltaic systems are the most commonly recognized solar energy systems. Solar cells, also called photovoltaic (PV) cells, are encased in panels to convert sunlight directly into electricity. PV cells come in many sizes and shapes, ranging from 10mm by 10mm to 100mm by 100mm (the latter of which is the most common).
- Concentrating solar power generates electricity from the sun by using mirrors and heliostats, which reflects sunlight onto receivers that are collected and converted into heat. “Thermal energy” as it’s called, can then be used to produce electricity.6
9. It’s Renewable
The energy from the sun is renewable, meaning it will never run out. Other energy source reserves, such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas, will eventually have its supply exhausted, which is even more reason to support the idea that solar is the energy of the future.
10. It’s Low Maintenance
Solar energy systems are incredibly durable and generally requires little maintenance. Most reliable solar panel manufacturers have a 20-25-year warranty. As an added benefit, if you lease or purchase your solar panel system from a financial provider, repairs and maintenance are the leasing company’s responsibility, not yours.