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Solar energy facts that will surprise you

With over 1.7 million homes across Australia having already invested in solar energy, it's evident that the industry is booming more than ever before! Solar systems offer many benefits for consumers, such as being a 100% renewable energy source, they are sustainable and they supply an abundance of free energy. But there is still so much more people don’t know about solar energy, so here are 7 fun facts that might surprise you.

One hour of sunlight is enough to power the entire earth for a whole year

If we could collect one hour of direct sunlight that would be all we need to generate a year’s worth of energy for the entire planet! The total amount of energy every human combined uses in one year is 410 quintillion joules. Every hour the sunlight hits earth it creates 430 quintillion joules of energy. That’s 430 with 18 zeros following it! The sun is an exceptionally powerful resource that holds many opportunities for developments in renewable energy. Especially with the sun's abundant availability, harnessing this power with solar panels will continue to develop in importance as we continue into the future.

Solar energy technology is almost 200 years old

You would think solar energy technology was a modern advancement that we have only just begun harnessing to power our homes. But solar power was discovered by Alexandre Edmond Becquerel in 1839 when he uncovered the ‘photovoltaic effect’ of how electricity can be generated from the result of direct sunlight. Then in 1941 Russell Ohl invented the first solar cell technology. Today we have solar panels that can be found worldwide in many different aspects of our lives, from the rooftops of our homes to the little tiny ones on our calculators. They provide as a safe and renewable energy that can be accessed globally.

Investing in solar panels can reduce your CO2 emissions by 9.5 tonnes annually

Solar panels reduce CO2 emissions by providing a clean and renewable energy source. An average Australian household with a 6.6kW solar power system has the capability to generate over 11,000 watt-hours of clean solar energy each year. This amount reduces the emissions of around 9.5 tonnes which is the equivalent of planting 35 trees yearly.

Solar panels can produce power without direct sunlight

The sun is one of most abundant energy resources and the development of solar panels to transform these light rays into energy has significantly impacted the renewable industry. Solar panels are designed to be able to capture different parts of the sunlight spectrum. They convert the light photons into electric current and since direct and indirect light both carry photos, solar panels can continually produce electricity anytime during the day. This means there’s no need to worry when it’s a cloudy day outside, your solar panels will still be generating electricity to power your household.

It would only take 51.4 billion solar panels to power the entire world

The last recorded data set announced the world consumed around 23,696 TWh of electricity according to the IEA, this means we would need 18.54 TW of solar power, which would be equivalent to 51.4 billion 350 W solar panels to power the entire world. The surface requirement for this amount of solar panels would be 74.16 million acres to build an 18.54 TW solar plant. Imagining such a large scale of land can be difficult but to help visualise the entirety of Australia is 7.692 million kilometres squared, so hypothetically we could power the entire world by just covering 3.89% of Australia!

Solar energy is 100% renewable and safe

Based on our current usage of energy sources the following estimated predictions suggest that we only have 114 years of coal, 53 years of natural gas and 50 years of oil resources left. Once these sources are depleted it would take millions of years to regenerate the fossil fuels that we consumed in just a couple hundred years. But solar energy is also an inexhaustible resource that has existed for about 4.5 billion years and it is expected to last another 5 billion years. The conversion of the sun's energy is 100% clean and gives no harmful waste bi-products, unlike nuclear energy or fossil fuels. Resulting in being an incredibly safe alternative as a renewable resource.

Solar energy can be stored in salt

Salt is an extremely efficient energy storage medium for concentrated solar power (CSP) generators, as it accumulates and stores the sun’s rays even after dark. Salt is used in technology for refrigeration, air conditioning in homes, or solar power plants! It is a perfect solution for renewable energy from CSP plants in deserts, where there is plentiful land and sunlight.

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