General Solar Energy Facts
With solar energy we can heat water or produce electricity. Solar energy can also be used to heat swimming pools, power cars, mobile phones, iPods, and other small appliances.
Solar energy is measured in kilowatt-hour. 1 kilowatt = 1000 watts.
At the moment we are using less than 0.1% energy from sunlight to meet our heating, transportation, and power needs.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
Solar Energy Facts: The Sun
Sunlight travels to the earth in approximately 8 minutes from 93,000,000 miles away, at 186,282 miles per second.
The Earth receives 174 petawatts (PW) of incoming solar radiation (insolation) at the upper atmosphere. Not all of it reaches the earth as it is blocked by clouds, pollution, and even wind.
Solar energy facts prove that the amount of solar energy reaching the surface of the planet in half a year is as much as will ever be obtained from all of the Earth's non-renewable resources of coal, oil, natural gas, and mined uranium combined.
Solar Energy Facts: Solar Energy Usage
The average household in the USA uses the equivalent of 3000kW hours of power per year to heat water. That is about 30% of our total energy consumption.
Even in cloudy conditions, we can collect up to 1300 kW hours per square meter of solar panels per year.
Solar Energy Facts: Solar System Installations
Annual U.S. grid-connected PV installations doubled in 2010 compared with installations in 2009 to 890 MW, raising the cumulative installed grid-connected capacity to 2.15 GW
Solar energy facts show that California has the biggest market share with 28% and 252 MW installed PV capacity, followed by New Jersey with 15% market share and 132.4 MW installed PV capacity.
Solar Energy Facts: Pricing
PV modules prices are constantly declining. Based on price data for a sample of installations in 2010, total installed price dropped by 14% for residential solar installations and 20% for commercial solar installations.
With technologies such as concentrated solar power the costs for solar energy is becoming more and more competitive with traditional energy generating processes.
In addition to these solar energy facts: Since 2011 the manufacturing costs for solar panels per watt fell below 1 USD. To estimate the cost of and amount you can save with your solar project, check out our free solar calculator tool!