1. How many solar panels would it take to power the entire world?
To meet the world’s current electricity consumption, we’d need 51.428 BILLION solar panels (using 350W solar panels).
That seems like a LOT. But let’s look at it another way.
For that many solar panels, we would need 191,000 square miles of land.
Which would cover just 3.27% of the United States.
Or a piece of land the size of New Mexico.
To power the ENTIRE world.(1)
Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash
2. Shrink 100 tons of air pollution in 30 years? Solar can do that!
That’s right! In under 30 years, the average rooftop solar panel system can reduce pollution by 100 tons of carbon dioxide.
That’s the same as planting around 5000 trees!
Let’s break it down.
An average U.S. household uses 830 kWh of electricity per month.
On average, producing 1,000 kWh of electricity with solar power slashes emissions by nearly
- 8 pounds of sulfur dioxide
- 5 pounds of nitrogen oxides
- more than 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide
Now get out there and save the environment with solar! (2)
Photo by pixpoetry on Unsplash
3. Sunlight has a long way to travel, but it’s super fast… and old
The sun is 90 million miles away from us!
How far is that?
Well put another way, it would take you 163 years to drive there going 65 MPH. That is of course, without stopping for gas.
But it takes less than 9 minutes for the sun to reach the earth. So fast, that if the sun ever disappeared, it would take almost 9 minutes for us to know!
The really interesting thing about sunlight is that it’s actually about 10,000 to 170,000 years old!
That’s right, what we know as sunlight is actually formed deep within the sun a long time ago…
and it takes between 10,000 and 170,000 years before it starts its 9 minute journey to Earth! (3, 4, 5)
Photo by Luis Graterol on Unsplash
4. The sun is a energy powerhouse
Every single hour the sun beams more energy to Earth than we need for an entire year.
The US Dept. of Energy calculated theoretical data comparing energy striking the earth’s surface for 1 ½ hours and how much energy the entire world consumed for the entire year of 2001.
What did they find?
You got it! We could have powered through 2001 with just an hour of sunlight. (This is, of course, assuming we had a magical device that could capture all of its power in just 1 hour.)
Energy produced from the sun is more than all the other sources combined.
Take that, fossil fuels! (6)
Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash
5. The space industry went solar way back in 1958
The space industry is always ahead of the game with future technology, and the use of solar is no different.
Back in 1958 the Vanguard 1 became the first satellite to use solar cell power.
In fact, the Vanguard 1 remains the oldest manmade satellite in orbit, logging more than 6 billion miles.
And In the 1960s the space industry began to use solar technology to provide power aboard spacecrafts.
Solar technologies are so important on space missions, they generate a majority of the power that keeps life support and other vital spacecraft systems working! (7, 8)
6. And speaking of space, can you guess what the International Space Station is powered by?
That’s right, the sun!
How else do you think you’d get power if you’re floating around in space?
Each wing of the International Space Station (ISS) contains an estimated whopping 33,000 solar cells.
The solar cells cover an area of about 27,000 square feet.
That’s more than half the area of a football field!
In fact the station itself is dwarfed by the size of its eight 114-foot long solar array wings.
How much power is that exactly?
Each wing converts about 14 percent of the sunlight that hits them into usable energy.
Although it may not sound like a lot, however, with all those solar cells, it’s enough power for their life support and all the vital functions.
And even after that, there’s still enough juice to power the equivalent of dozens of homes on Earth! (9, 10)
Photo by Samyag Shah on Unsplash
7. Tired of lots of moving parts? Solar has none!
Solar is the only energy system that has exactly zero moving parts.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems have no emissions, no moving parts, no noise, and they don’t need water or fossil fuels to produce power.
And it’s the only energy generating system that you can set up in the middle of nowhere, or wherever energy is needed.
It’s also the fastest (along with wind) to set up! You can install a solar power plant within several months, depending on the size and complexity, but that is compared to nuclear power plants that take between 5-15 years and coal plants that take around 4 years.
That means that you could get a solar power plant up and running in an emergency, wherever energy is needed!
Now, how’s that for the future of power? (11, 12)