But is that all that there is to solar panel technology?
Not by a long shot. Here, we’ll take a look at some lesser-known facts about solar panels to gain a better understanding of this revolutionary technology.
1. Solar Panel Science Is Older Than You Might Think
If you had to guess, when would you suppose the first solar cells were developed? The 1990s, maybe the 1980s, or even the 1970s?
The answer is 1954. At least, that’s when the first commercial solar panel was developed for sale by researchers at Bell Laboratories.
The first functioning cell was developed 13 years earlier by Russell Ohl, and if you really wanted to go back, the photovoltaic effect that solar technology relies on was first observed by Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel as far back as 1839, though the physicist couldn’t explain the phenomenon at the time.
So that’s a little over a hundred years from discovery, to development, to commercial production. It would seem that solar energy was a long time coming!
2. One Hour of Sunlight Could Meet the Earth’s Energy Demands for a Year
The is essentially a gigantic nuclear furnace, and as such is the single greatest source of energy available to the earth. Nothing else could ever come close.
That power source is so huge that it sends 430 quintillion Joules of energy to the earth every single hour. Meanwhile, the amount of energy humans use in a year clocks in at only 410 quintillion Joules.
That means hypothetically if we had an efficient enough solar set-up to capture 100% of that output, we could meet our global energy consumption with only an hour of sunlight and still have power left over.
3. Solar Panels Can Produce Electricity Without Direct Sunlight
A common misconception about solar panels is that they only function in direct sunlight, leaving users in the dark at times.
This may well have been true once, but is no longer the case for modern solar technology.
This is because solar panels can capture different parts of the sun’s light spectrum, including those not visible to the human eye. This means that if it’s a sunny day or the sun is shining at an indirect angle, solar panels are still pulling power from its rays.
4. The Cost of Solar Energy Is Going to Keep Dropping
The greatest stumbling block to solar power’s adoption has been the cost of the technology. However, we’ve seen that cost drop precipitously and can expect it to continue to do so.
Texas-based Blue Raven Solar puts forth that average solar panel prices have fallen 38% over the last few years alone, with the trend showing no sign of stopping. At that rate, the wide adoption of solar energy is a matter “when” rather than “if”.
Solar Panel Technology Will Be Integral to Our Future
With the sheer amount of energy our sun gifts us with each day, it is inevitable that solar will become the wave of the future. This is especially likely as the cost of solar panel technology continues to plummet and our reliance on fossil fuels becomes more and more untenable.
It will be fascinating to watch solar technology mature in the years to come. To keep up with developments as they happen, and stay in the loop on every emerging tech advancement, be sure to keep up with all of our latest tech news and views.