7 Facts about Solar that might Surprise you!
After decades in the shade, solar power is now starting to really outshine every other form of energy source including fossil fuels. Solar is now cheaper than fossil fuels without subsidies. Solar and other forms of renewable energy are constantly in the news but there is still a lot that most people don’t know about solar energy.
1. Solar energy is the most abundant energy source on Earth
There is enough solar energy hitting the earth from the suns rays each hour to power the entire earths energy needs for an entire year. If we covered 25,000 sq miles with solar panels it would generate enough power to supply the United States for 1 year. That is the scale of the opportunity. There would be no need for Oil, Coal or gas.
2. Solar energy costs have fallen by 100% since 2000
The costs of solar energy installation keeps falling in large part due to the rise in installations and also the government legislation encouraging the push towards renewable energy. China had the highest level of solar installation last year surpassing Germany making the country with the most solar energy capacity as the government seeks to cut carbon emmissions.
3. Solar energy is now cheaper than all fossil fuels
It is calculated that solar energy now costs 4.3 cents per kWh on an unsubsidized basis. Compare that to the cheapest fossil fuel natural gas at between 5 to 7.5cents per kWh, and in regions where there is higher sunlight hours the costs are even cheaper. Mexico has recently produced solar energy that cost as little as $0.01 cent per kWh. Costs are only going to get cheaper as solar technology continues to improve.
4. Solar energy panels can now last for 40 years
The solar energy panels being produced and installed today can last for up to 40 years with little or no maintenance costs. As panel technology improves then it is very easy to replace the old panels with newer more productive ones. In fact, the infrastructure around a solar plant has a lot of value and once the infrastructure is in place a solar power plant has a very long and effective lifespan.
5. China is now the world leader in solar energy
By the end of 2017 solar installations in China will reach 50 GW of solar power enough to power 8.2 million homes. When you compare that the US will install 12 GW over the same period puts the size of Chinas development into perspective. China has increased its investment in Renewable energy and plans to spend £292 billion by 2020 and provide 13 million jobs. This investment comes at a time when the relationship between air pollution and public health grows increasingly alarming.
6. 50% of new energy production in 2016 was Solar
As costs come down and more countries look to solar installations, the percentage of new solar additions in the overall energy mix will likely go up. Not only is Solar now more cost effective, it is becoming a big part of the overall energy mix, locally and nationally. The graph below perfectly demonstrates this relationship between cost and installations.
7. Solar energy is the fastest energy source to install
When disaster strikes no other energy source can be installed or repaired faster than solar energy. A perfect example is what happened in Peurto Rico when hurricane Maria destroyed most of the infrastructure leaving the island nation without electrical power. Only seven weeks after disaster struck companies like Tesla and Sunrun have brought power to 26% of households for a fraction of the cost.