Facts about Solar Energy

As of 2020, solar energy accounted for 25% of renewable electricity within the UK. Solar energy is not only in high demand as a green energy source, but it’s also becoming more accessible and affordable for homeowners. With over 1.3 million homes in the UK already operating with solar panels, solar energy is a viable way to power your home and contribute to the UK Government’s Net Zero goal set for 2050. But there is still a lot to learn about solar energy and its potential.

Here are 8 facts about solar energy that may surprise you

☀️ Solar Energy Is The Most Abundant Energy Source On Earth

Did you know that 173,000 terawatts (173,000,000,000,000,000 watts) of sunlight (or photons) hit the Earth every year.

This means that one year of sunlight is enough energy to power the Earth for over 20,000 years.

A natural, renewable and abundant resource, solar energy produces no pollution while generating electricity.

After sunlight, the second most important component in producing solar energy is the solar panel itself. Silicon is the most common semi-conductive material used in solar cells. With 95% of today’s sold solar panels including it. What’s more, just like solar energy itself, it is widely available and renewable.

According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, silicon is the eighth-most abundant element in the universe. It is also the second-most abundant element on the planet, after oxygen. I think it’s safe to say solar energy isn’t going anywhere anytime soon!

☀️ The First Solar Cell Was Invented in 1767

Humans have been using solar energy for light, warmth and heat since ancient times. As early as the 7th century BC, they used magnifying glasses to concentrate sunlight and start fires.

“Sunrooms” were another early use of solar energy. Sunrooms used large windows to direct sunlight into specific areas, to capture heat. Even at this early stage in the history of solar energy, south-facing parts of buildings were the most desirable location for a sunroom.

It was Swiss scientist Horace-Benedict de Saussure who designed and built the world’s first solar collector cell in 1767. However, it was in 1839 that Edmond Becquerel discovered the potential of the photovoltaic effect, which is the basis of how solar panels work.

However, we cannot talk about the history of solar energy without mentioning Albert Einstein. It was Einstein’s 1905 papers on the theory of relativity and the photoelectric effect that brought the world’s attention to solar energy and its potential. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922 for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.

Did you know this is the same effect used in photosynthesis? When light hits the material (both plants and solar panels), they use chemical reactions to transform or change energy from the sun.

☀️ The Energy White Paper Ensures 247,400 More Green Jobs In The UK

The solar energy industry is not only providing us with cheaper, cleaner energy, but also creating jobs and boosting the economy. According to official figures, the number of UK-based jobs in low-carbon and renewable energy sectors in 2021 was almost 40,000 higher than in 2020, reaching 247,400 full-time equivalents. The renewables sector as a whole is expected to create up to 500,000 jobs by 2030. Solar panels can save homeowners up to 70% off their electricity bill, and the government has an ambition of up to 50GW (gigawatts) of offshore wind by 2030, which could generate £29 billion for the UK economy. The use of wind and solar energy could also help the UK achieve its Net Zero target by 2050 and reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels.

☀️ As Of 2020 Solar Energy Is Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels

Solar energy has become one of the most affordable energy sources in the world. According to the latest data from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, the average cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) per kW in the UK in May 2023 was £2,190, down from £2,246 in February 2022. This means that solar energy can produce electricity at around 5 pence per kilowatt-hour, which is cheaper than fossil fuels.

In 2020, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that the cost per megawatt (MW) to build solar farms was lower than fossil fuels worldwide for the first time. Renewables were also expected to surpass coal as the main source of electricity generation by 2025, as almost 90% of new electricity generation in 2020 was powered by renewables.

Solar PV is now consistently cheaper than new coal or gas-fired power plants in most countries, and solar projects now offer some of the lowest cost electricity ever seen,” IEA said.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) also found that the cost of solar PV had globally decreased by 82% between 2010 and 2020. This cost will continue to fall as the technology improves and becomes more accessible.

☀️ Solar Energy Is Clean Energy, Which Is Better For Our Health

The Energy Saving Trust estimates that the average UK home with a solar panel system installed could reduce carbon emissions by 1.7 to 2.1 tonnes per year depending on where you live. That is enough carbon emissions to charge 809,524 smartphones.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 6.7 million deaths occur each year due to air pollution. As solar energy is clean energy and reduces carbon emissions, adopting it could significantly reduce this environmental and health risk.

☀️ Solar Farms Power The London Square Mile With Green Energy

Did you know that as of 2020 there are approximately 1,000 solar farms located across the UK? Amazing, right?

The largest solar farm in the UK is Cleve Hill Solar Park in Kent, which was granted planning consent in 2020 and is expected to be operational by 2025. It will have a capacity of 350MW (megawatts) and will provide enough electricity to power over 91,000 homes.

A solar farm in the countryside of Dorset is already powering London’s Square Mile with solar energy. The 95,000 solar panel farm, known as Shotwick Solar Park, generates enough green electricity to power 15,000 homes. It supplies half the energy required to run the Square Mile’s historic Guildhall buildings, the Barbican arts centre and Smithfield market.

☀️ By 2025 The Solar Capacity Of The UK Is Set To Be 18,000 MW

In 2020, renewable energy generated 43% of the UK’s electricity, 4.5% being solar energy. The record for the highest share of renewable energy powering the UK in a single day occurred on 30 May 2020, when 80% of all electricity was derived from solar, wind and other low-carbon sources.

The solar capacity in the UK is constantly growing. It increased from 5,488.6 MW in 2014 to 13,100 MW in 2018 (the third highest in the EU) to 14,119 MW in June 2021. This solar capacity is projected to rise up to 18,000 MW by 2025!

Moreover, since the April 2010 launch of the Feed-in Tariff (FiT), there were over 1 million new solar panel installations recorded in the UK as of March 2021.

☀️ The Time For Solar Is Now

The UK has the capacity to power as many as 4 million households using solar panels alone! If you would like to find out more about getting a solar panel system installed, give NXTGEN Energy a call today, on 01268 928 690 or click the ‘Enquire Now’ button below. To join the solar revolution, simply send us an enquiry and we will reply to you as soon as possible.

NXTGEN Energy – Your Trusted Solar Energy Solutions Partner 💚

Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Energy

What is solar energy in simple words?

What is solar energy? Solar energy is the radiation from the Sun capable of producing heat, causing chemical reactions, or generating electricity. The total amount of solar energy received on Earth is vastly more than the world’s current and anticipated energy requirements.

Is solar energy heat or light?

In harvesting light energy from the sun, the solar panel uses photovoltaic effects to convert light directly into electricity. It is light, not heat, that generates electricity — and too much heat can actually hinder the electricity-making process.

Is solar energy a good energy?

As a renewable source of power, solar energy has an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change, which is critical to protecting humans, wildlife, and ecosystems. Solar energy can also improve air quality and reduce water use from energy production.

What are 5 advantages of solar energy?

5 Benefits of Residential Solar
1: Solar panels are increasingly affordable.
2: You can save money by going solar.
3: You can keep the lights on when the grid goes down.
4: Solar will often increase the value of your home.
5: Solar systems work in a variety of climates.

Is solar energy cheap to run?

Solar power is the cheapest source of energy on the planet. Global renewable energy capacity is growing year-on-year, increasing by 9.1% in 2021 alone (IRENA, 2022), with solar panels and wind power leading the way. Fossil fuel consumption growth, on the other hand, is beginning to slow down.

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