Solar energy is a renewable source of energy that comes from the sun and is available for human use. As opposed to using fossil fuels as sources of energy, renewable energy does not run out. The are several types of solar energy technologies that are dedicated into using that energy and convert it into heat or electricity. Solar collectors are used to collect energy for solar hot water systems, and photovoltaic cells are used to convert solar energy into electricity. Following are a some useful facts about the sun and how humans use solar energy.
- The sun is the most unlimited and renewable source of power known to human kind.
- The largest solar power plant on Earth is located in the Mojave Desert in California and its power rating is 354 megawatts.
- In the United States, a residential photovoltaic system’s installation costs $3 to $5 per watt with an approximate return on investment of 8-10 years.
- In 1931 Thomas Edison said about solar energy: “We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind and tide. 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”.
- The total surface area necessary to power the planet with solar energy is only about 375,000 square kilometers; which is about the area of Japan.
- The regular residential consumption of power in the US for 2010 was 960 kilowatt-hours with a typical monthly price of $110.67.
- It takes about 40 photovoltaic cells to make 1 solar panel.
- Solar power is also used to heat swimming pools, heat solar ovens, and deliver power to automobiles, small aircrafts and even satellites in outer space.
- Energy from the sun is used to produce electricity and to heat domestic water, but it also has other uses such as dehydrating fruits and drying clothes.
- The first solar panel cell was developed by Charles Fritts in the 1880’s.
- More energy from the sun reaches the planet in one hour than the world’s population uses in a year.
- The average size of a residential photovoltaic system is 5 kilowatts.
- The United States offers a federal tax credit that is worth 30% of the price of installing a solar PV system.
- A cloudy day or a city with heavy air pollution will considerably lower the efficiency of solar panels.
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