Compiling solar energy statistics was a sobering exercise. So many positives but so much work still to do.
Solar power is the best kind of renewable energy. In our humble opinion.
Sunlight is available in abundance nearly everywhere on earth and if you can tap into it and store it then you have a boon for the planet and lower electricity bills for you.
So, let’s take a look at some exciting facts about solar energy!
- California is home to the world’s largest solar power plant in the Mojave Desert. The Ivanpah Solar Power facility generates 392 Megawatts of electricity every day.
- There are over 1.47 million solar panels installed and in use in the United States now – that is estimated to offset more than 70 million metric tonnes of Carbon Dioxide production. If you wanted to do that by planting trees, you’d have to plant 1.2 billion of them!
- 19% of all of California’s energy comes from solar now and across the US it’s estimated that nearly 2% of all electricity comes from solar.
- The country which uses the most solar power generation is not China, contrary to popular belief, it’s Germany which generates 32,411 Megawatts daily with it, Italy is second with 16,361 Megawatts and China is 3rd with 8,300 and the USA is 4th with 7,777.
- A high-quality solar panel is between 22 and 23% efficient. However, the vast majority of panels in use are not this efficient and are lucky to achieve 20% efficiency – that’s a lot of solar energy going to waste.
- It is thought to be possible to create solar cells which capture 100% of the available solar energy but they are not, yet, cost efficient to produce. The National Renewable Energy Lab has, in fact, created a quantum solar cell which is more than 100% efficient!
Solar Power: The Basics
The earth is hit by 174 Petawatts of solar energy every day. However, nearly 30% of that ends up being reflected off by clouds, the oceans and even the land.
What’s left, however, is more than enough to power every single energy need by the human race by a factor of about 10,000.
There are 7 different types of solar panel in common usage but there are only 4 which are normally sold today.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels are the most efficient, but they are very expensive, so the most commonly used are Polycrystalline Solar Panels which don’t last quite as long and take up more space.
When space is not an issue Thin Film Amorphous Silicon Panels are chosen, they’re very inefficient but they’re very cheap too. It is possible to use a solar tracking system to boost the performance of Concentrated Photovoltaic Cells (CVP) to 41% but these require a lot of investment not just in the tracking system but also in a cooling system.
Some Interesting Solar Statistics For The USA
- California is home not just to the largest solar power plant in the world but to an incredible 744 different solar power plants in total. Most of them are also found in the Mojave Desert area.
- Colorado, Minnesota and Massachusetts join California as the biggest users of community solar power (that is solar power which is not generated on somebody’s home but rather on a big “solar farm” and the solar energy is then shared between a larger community). This kind of power generation is often preferable to adding panels to homes and requires fewer skilled laborers to provide it.
The solar industry employs nearly a quarter of a million Americans (at least this is true in 2019 – who knows what the coronavirus will have done to the industry in 2020?) and there was growth in the solar power job market in 31 states in 2019 too. Florida’s solar industry is booming at the moment.
- Big businesses are also getting on in the act. Apple, Amazon and Target are the three American corporations which generate the most green energy via their own solar power plants.
Interesting Global Statistics
- China doesn’t generate the most solar power but it does have the highest levels of installed solar capacity. The Chinese government is incentivizing clean energy regimes and everyone in China is keen to get in on the act.
- Between 2017 and 2018, the annual growth in solar power was 34%. Between 2019 and 2030 the average year on year growth estimated for the solar power sector is 15% globally. That means solar power is going to be a boom industry for years to come and if you’re thinking about a career in solar – the future looks bright (excuse the pub).
- Currently solar generates about 3% of the world’s total energy output.
Solar power is a vital way to reduce our carbon emissions and improve the environment and for the moment, as you can see, things are very much going in the right direction for the solar energy industry.