This, the 4th installment of the “Interesting Facts About Solar Energy” series, finds us on election day 2016! If you haven’t already, I hope you all make a point to get out and VOTE today.
No matter what your political views are, I know we can all agree that the solar industry continues to boom. So many of us are making the choice to go solar now more than ever before, and amidst this wacky election year, I figured it would be a welcome distraction to take a look at 6 more interesting facts about solar energy.
- An average of half a million panels were installed every single day during 2015
Half a million. According to the IEA (International Energy Agency), this is a 15% increase over 2014. And if you look at things on a global scale, renewable energy capacity now trumps coal power capacity!
- Solar powered bike paths are actually a thing
Both Poland and the Netherlands have created solar bike paths that glow at night, giving cyclists, joggers, and walkers a safer, more beautiful option to traditional roadways.
- In the 15th century, Leonardo Da Vinci made a prediction that there would one day be solar industrialization
We all know that Leonardo Da Vinci, a scientist, artist, and mathematician, had quite a remarkable mind. Did you know he’s also considered one of the very first “solar pioneers” due to his belief, well over 500 years ago, that the world would one day be able to utilize the energy from the sun?
- The sun was born over 4 and a half billion years ago
According to astrophysicists, the sun still has another 6 or 7 billion years before its fuel is exhausted. When this happens, the sun will become what’s known as a “white dwarf” (a stage in planetary progression where a stars nuclear fuel is exhausted). With the suns depletion of hydrogen reserves, some say it will then expand into what’s referred to as a “red giant”, and could swallow the earth. Jeez….that’s pretty scary to think about!
- Ancient Egyptians used the power of the sun to dry “bricks” made of mud
The intelligent ancients used these dried bricks extensively in masonry, along with evaporation practices they used to collect salt from brine. This was an extremely efficient process – they collected mud from the Nile River, placed it into molds, thereby manufacturing hard bricks that they then used to build their homes and other structures along the Nile. While floods wiped away many of the remnants of this early means of construction, the hot, dry climate of Egypt actually preserved some mud brick structures, as seen to this day in the village of Deir el-Medina.
- The first solar power station was built in 1912
Heating water and other liquids through solar energy changes the material composition into a gas. When you heat water, that gas is steam. Back in 1897, a guy named Frank Shuman created an advanced system that was designed with the sole purpose of harnessing the suns energy into usable power – powerful enough to run a small engine. Over the years, he patented and perfected his invention to the point where it could power a full size steam engine.
In 1912, he built the first solar power station in Egypt. His power station was the first large scale use of solar energy, delivering between 45 and 52 kilowatts.
There are so many interesting, and even jaw-dropping facts about solar energy, which makes it an even more exciting industry to be a part of.
Now go vote!
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(Images from: TPA Instytut Badan Technicznych, the image file, wikiwand, the Bettman archive, Patty E Benson, Energy Blog)