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Last updated: 06 June 2018

7 Facts About Solar Energy You Didn’t Know

Fact 1: Bountiful Energy Source

Solar energy is the most abundant energy source we know. The sun is the biggest energy generator on Earth. We receive 173,000 terawatts continuously. The sunlight reaching the Earth every hour could potentially satisfy the global energy needs. However, we are able to use only 0,001 per cent of the solar energy that is available to us.

Read more: How to Save Money With Solar Energy?

Fact 2: Solar Energy and the Environment

Using solar energy does not lead to air or water pollution, and does not release greenhouse gases. Nevertheless, it can have some indirect negative effects on the environment.  For example, during the  manufacturing process of photovoltaic cells (PV), which convert light into electricity, there are toxic materials and chemicals used. There are also some solar thermal systems that use possibly hazardous fluids for transferring the heat. This is why environmental laws regulate the disposal of those kinds of potentially harmful materials.

Fact 3: Solar Energy is Applicable Everywhere 

Solar Panels and solar water heaters are most effective in areas with constant exposure to the sun. However, they also generate electricity or heat when it is cloudy or cold. So solar energy is still a viable source in that kind of regions. This is due to the fact that solar panels need sunlight, not sun heat, to generate electricity of heat.

Read more: Is the UK Sunny Enough for Solar Panels to Work?

Fact 4: Solar Energy Has Long History

Solar energy has been around for a while. The first solar cells were built in 1954 by Bell Laboratories. However, the interest of scientists towards solar energy has been existent much earlier. During the 1760s a swiss scientist named Horace de Saussure, build hot boxes which were made from wood and glass. They trapped solar heat which was used for cooking.

Fact 5: Solar Energy and the Space Industry

The space industry was one of the first to acknowledge the usefulness of solar energy and to implement it. As early as the 1960s the industry began to use solar energy to provide power aboard the spacecrafts. Vanguard 1 is the first artificial earth satellite powered by solar energy. The russian Lunokhod Rover was also powered by solar energy when it landed on the Moon in 1973.

Fact 6: Powering up a Skyscaper

Solar energy is used to power up the CIS building in Manchester city. This is the largest skyscraper in the UK outside of London. It has more than 7,000 solar panels. Although Manchester is not one of the sunniest cities, the solar panels meet around 10 per cent of the building’s energy needs.

Fact 7: Einstein and Solar Energy

Albert Einstein experimented with solar energy and photovoltaics. He wrote a paper in 1905 explaining the photoelectric effect. The paper won him a Nobel Prize in 1921 and also built the foundations for further development of the solar technologies. Even though effective generation from solar panels will not happen until 50 years later, Einstein’s work was the cornerstone.

Read more: UK Renewable Energy: Facts and Stats