Solar is fascinating! From its discovery to now solar has an incredible story and will continue to keep growing as people turn to more sustainable sources for electricity. There is so much to learn about solar and its industry. Here are five interesting questions about solar that you might not know the answers to.
1. How did solar begin?
Solar power was discovered in 1839 by Alexandre Edmond Becquerel who determined that an electrical current could be created, if a conductor was hit by one of the sun’s rays. Over 100 years later, in 1954 the first solar photovoltaic cell was invented by Bell Laboratories, they were available for purchase two years later, but the average cost of a one watt solar cell was $300. Exon mobile was one of the first companies that researched lowering the cost of the solar cell as they used them for electrical power.
2. How is solar power produced?
Most people know that solar power is energy harvested from the sun, but not everyone knows how solar energy is collected and converted into usable power. Cells in solar panels capture specific wavelengths of solar radiation and change them into electricity. These photovoltaic cells (commonly made of silicon) create a reaction between the protons (light rays) and electrons, which collide with each other at an atomic scale. This causes the electrons to be launched free, where they are captured and channeled into usable power.
3. Does solar cause any pollution?
The only pollution created by solar is during the manufacturing of the panels. After they produce no pollution on their own, not even sound pollution! They just produce clean energy making solar one of the cleanest and most sustainable renewable resources on the planet. Especially compared to coal plants or oil, which are the largest producers of emissions. Oil also harms the planet through oil spills that pollute the waters and harm the wild life. Therefore, solar energy is a great alternative, just one system can reduce pollution by 100 tons of CO2 carbon dioxide in its lifetime, including the pollution made during the manufacturing of the panels.
4. Does solar financially make sense?
The answer varies depending on lifestyle and location. Many states offer incentive programs that provide rebates or discounts for solar panel instillation to help make the cost more affordable and encourage people to switch to more sustainable options.
On average, it will take a family anywhere from six to fifteen years to pay off their solar panels, but depending on the circumstances some can pay them off in two years, if the climate is favorable for solar and there are state incentives. Panels are also exempted from taxes and can add substantial value to your home. The federal government also offers a 30% tax break on solar panels and some companies will offer power purchase agreements to help offset the initial cost of them.
5. What does the future hold for solar?
The growing impact of pollution makes more people decide to switch over to clean and sustainable sources of energy, however pollution also affects the sun’s strength when hitting the solar panels. This means that the quicker people convert to solar power the more solar power the earth could harness.
Solar is constantly growing, last year there was a solar panel instillation every 84 seconds! Solar jobs are growing as well, more than 260,000 Americans work in the solar industry and that number is expected to increase over 100,000 in the next 3 years.