The sun—it’s been around in the universe for over four billion years. Yet, it’s been less than a short two centuries since humans learned to harness the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity. But in those nearly 200 years, we have learned a lot of interesting things about the fancy science of solar.
1) You don’t need direct sunlight to produce electricity in a solar panel
Yep—you read that correctly! Although solar panels are most efficient under direct sunlight, they don’t actually require it. On overcast or rainy days, solar panels can still produce electricity anywhere up to 25 percent of their regular capacity! Direct sun or shade, solar panels will produce electricity.
2) Your average solar panel can reduce pollution by up to 100 tons of carbon dioxide in its lifetime
Solar energy is one of the cleanest ways to generate electricity. If you installed a common system (6kW), you could reduce your household’s CO2 emissions by over 50 percent. You read that right, 50% less pollution!
3) Solar energy is conducted using photons from the sun
When the photons (or light rays) hit your solar panel, a tiny reaction occurs between photons and electrons. The electrons are shaken loose, captured and streamed through tiny wires as usable electricity for your home.
4) Space missions often use solar energy to power their spacecraft
In 2016, NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter broke the world record as it became the most distant mission powered by the sun. The four-ton spacecraft carried three 9-metre solar arrays and travelled 493 million miles from the sun—that’s five times farther than the earth is away from it!
5) The largest solar plant in the world is located in California
In the Mojave Desert, the world’s largest 3500-acre solar farm produces enough electricity to power 140,000 California homes. But this plant doesn’t use your average photovoltaic technology—instead, they use heat. More than 170,000 mirrors gather sunlight and focus it onto three water towers, raising the temperatures and producing steam that spins electricity generating turbines.
There’s so much more to learn about solar energy. Visit the IntegrateSun blog for more fun facts and to learn about the science of solar. And if you feel particularly adventurous, reach out to our team to schedule your free solar consultation for your home or business.