The whole world is going solar, it seems. If you’re thinking of installing a solar array on the roof of your home then not only will you be in good company but you’ll also be making a very wise move. Here’s some solar energy facts that’ll make you think.
The world’s first solar cell was invented in 1941
Although Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect – the ability to create an electric current from the energy in sunlight – back in 1839, the world’ first PV cell wasn’t invented until 1941. American engineer Russell Ohl devised the world’s first silicon solar cell in New Jersey in 1941. Just 13 years later, in 1954, Bell Laboratories released the first ever commercial solar panel.
Just one hour of sunlight is the equivalent of one year’s worth of energy for the entire world’s usage
The light from the sun is abundant, it falls upon the earth with no effort on our part and it’s free!
Every hour of daylight sends 430 quintillion Joules of energy to the earth’s surface. A quintillion has 18 zeroes, so this is 430,000,000,000,000,000,000 Joules, every hour of every day! The total amount of energy that humanity uses in a year is only 410 quintillion Joules, so it’s easy to see how vital solar power could become.
Solar panels don’t need direct sunlight to produce electricity
Yes, that’s right! Many people think that sunlight has to be shining directly, unobstructed by clouds, onto the surface of the panels for electricity to be generated. Clouds only obscure 10% or so of the sunlight that hits the earth and modern solar panels can capture light that’s coming in at diffused angles, so they can produce electricity even on overcast days. Of course, we still don’t have a way to make solar panels work at night, but do we need to?
One solar panel can “save” 900kg of CO2 each year
Apart from the great benefits of free (well, almost) energy, solar panels also reduce the carbon footprint of your house. An average-sized domestic solar array could reduce your carbon dioxide output by up to two tonnes a year.
In addition to your CO2 savings, you’ll be reducing your sulphur dioxide emissions by up to 4kg each month, as well as reducing your nitrogen oxide output by around 2kg each month.
Your solar investment will pay for itself in less than a decade
While the initial cost of a solar array and its installation might seem eye-watering, you will get your money back – and more. The real value of your investment comes from the years of low-to-no energy bills, especially if you get a reasonable feed-in tariff for selling electricity back to the grid.
In some areas of Australia, you could save as much as $3,500 each year on power bills once you’ve had a solar array installed, which could mean a payback time of five or six years for a 7kWh system.
These savings, combined with the falling prices of solar (with or without the rebates and incentives your state might offer), means it makes sense to go solar as soon as you can afford to.
A good-sized solar array can bump up your kerb appeal
In order to get sufficient electricity into your home from solar power, you’ll need an array of 30 or so panels on top of your roof. Passers-by can’t help but notice your panels, if they’re on the front side of the roof and this impressive sight can help you to sell your property when the times comes. If the installation looks fairly new then it’s especially attractive, as potential buyers will know that they’ll be walking into a new home with no need to install their own panels and almost no power bills.