More Interesting Facts About Solar Power

The first week of February is “Solar Education Week”, and college campuses nationwide are taking a deeper look at sustainability, and planning educational solar events so everyone can learn more about solar power.


As solar promoters, and solar ambassadors, it’s always a good thing to know what you’re talking about. Yeah, if you’re in the inverter business, you should know about things like distributed generation and low-voltage ride through. If you’re an installer, you’ll need to know all about application, design, and (obviously) installation. But I’m not talking about that kind of knowledge. The knowledge I’m talking about is the sort of stuff that not just one niche in the industry knows, but that we should all know collectively.  It’s that history, those stories that make us stronger as a whole, and therefore more able to share, and promote our amazing industry.

So take a few minutes, get comfy (well, maybe not too comfy if you’re in the office), and read on….

According to SEIA, growth in the solar industry is helping to drive the U.S. economy

An almost 40% growth last year made solar one of the fastest-growing industries in the country, and analysts expect this staggering growth to continue. Q3 was the country’s 2nd largest quarter in history for PV installations. Some are calling it a modern day gold rush.

Comparatively speaking, in 2012 the new capacity to come on-line was 9.6%, while 2013 saw a rise to 29%, and 2014 saw a rise to an astonishing 36%.  This substantial growth benefits our economy AND the environment.  Win/Win!


The 1970’s oil crisis shed light on the fragility of our reliance on fossil fuels

Flash back to the early 1970’s and you would see oil consumption in America rising, at the same time as oil production was on a decline.  This forced us into an increasing dependence on foreign oil, which Washington policymakers at the time not only supported, but encouraged, since they believed that Arab oil export companies couldn’t live without the all-powerful American buck….turns out they were wrong.  In 1973, OAPEC (Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries) imposed an embargo, which led to massive fuel shortages, outrageous prices (oil went from $3 per barrel to $12 per barrel), and consumer panic.

But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining….the oil embargo triggered more in-depth research of alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power, and helped to create the Energy Petroleum Allocation Act, and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. The rest is history.


By the Fall of 2014, over 3,750 schools in the US were being powered by solar

In this article put out by SEIA, which is full of great information about solar and schools, you can see a listing of schools that have gone solar by state. It’s said that over 3,000 (nearly 80%) of these schools went solar in just the past 6 years.  Not surprisingly, California is the state with the most installed solar PV capacity. Saving money, making the future greener and cleaner, and creating educational opportunities are only a few reasons schools are putting solar to work.


Check out SEIA’s interactive map aptly called, “Brighter Future:  A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools”

Around 30% of our energy consumption is put to use heating water

Let’s face it, conventional water heaters are energy hogs, working non-stop to heat that water so it’s warm the moment we want it.  By nature, as the water sits in the tank, it cools, and to keep it warm, the heating element is constantly kicking on and off.

Some obvious things you can do to reduce the energy used, and to lower your electricity bill are to invest in a new energy-efficient water heater, turn down your tank’s thermostat, consider on-demand or natural gas powered water heaters, and/or use less hot water.

Another thing you can do that is becoming more and more obvious as we move more into a solar age, is heat your water with the power of the sun!  Solar hot water heaters are available in a wide variety of designs, and they all use the sun’s energy to heat the water, saving you money, and contributing to not only a healthier environment, but also to the green-collar jobs sector.


That’s all for this installment.  If you have any interesting facts to share, please post them!  The more we know, the better off we all are, as individuals, and as an industry.


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