Sure, we all know that solar energy is a thing, just as we’re familiar with wind energy or natural gas being things. But the SCIENCE behind it seems like, well, like not that much fun to study. Like, the sun hits the panels and then turns into magic, right? And your electric bill is cheaper?
Since studying is NEVER fun on the weekend, today we’re going to take a walk on the lighter side of the sun. May is coming, the clouds will soon part, so WHY NOT serve up some good, old-fashioned fun facts!? Bonus: these are easy to remember, so you can wow your friends at parties!
FUN FACT 1. IT TAKES SUNLIGHT ABOUT EIGHT MINUTES TO REACH THE EARTH
The sun is one million times larger than planet Earth, and must travel 93 million miles to reach the earth’s surface. When moving at the speed of light, sunlight takes just over eight minutes to travel this distance.
FUN FACT 2. THE EARTH WILL NEVER RUN OUT OF SOLAR ENERGY
Sun is termed a renewable source of energy because it will never become depleted as time passes. Fossil fuels, such as oil, coal, and gas, are not considered to be renewable energy sources because we only have so much of them available on the planet. This means they will eventually run out.
FUN FACT 3. JUST ONE DAY OF SUNLIGHT CAN SATISFY THE EARTH’S ENERGY NEEDS FOR ALMOST THREE DECADES
The amount of energy consumed throughout the world, over the course of 27 years, equals only one full day’s worth of sun energy. To break it down further, the amount of solar energy that reaches the earth's surface in just 40 minutes is equal to the world's total annual energy consumption!
FUN FACT 4. THE FIRST SILICON SOLAR CELL, OR PRECURSOR OF ALL SOLAR-POWERED DEVICES, WAS BUILT BY BELL LABORATORIES IN 1954
However, photovoltaic energy (aka. solar cells) started way back in 1876. William Grylls Adams and his student, Richard Day, discovered that when selenium was exposed to light, it produced electricity. An electricity expert, Werner von Siemens, stated that the discovery was "scientifically of the most far-reaching importance." Although the selenium cells were not efficient, it was proven that light, without heat or moving parts, could be converted into electricity.
FUN FACT 5: THE COST OF SOLAR PANELS HAS DROPPED BY 80% SINCE 2008
What other big-ticket item has that kind of drop, particularly when the alternative is paying ever-increasing electric bills?
So there you have it: crazy true science to make you sound like a renewable energy aficionado just in time to wow the summer barbecue crowd!
Here comes the sun, indeed.
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