Ten facts about solar energy that might surprise you

Ten facts about solar energy that might surprise you

After decades of development and political debate about solar energy, the industry is finally ready to stand on its own. Solar power projects around the world are beating fossil fuels on price without subsidies, and each time they do, the future looks a little brighter.

But there’s still a lot most people don’t know about solar energy. Here are 10 things that may surprise you.

1. Solar power is the most abundant energy source on Earth

There’s enough solar energy hitting the Earth every hour to meet all of humanity’s power needs for an entire year.

Every ounce of oil, every lump of coal, and every cubic foot of natural gas could be left in the ground if only we could capture one hour’s worth of solar energy each year. That’s the scale of the opportunity.

To put the it into a different perspective, if we covered the Mojave Desert with solar arrays, it would generate more than twice as much electricity as the U.S. uses annually.

2. Solar panel costs have fallen 99% since 1977

In 1977, it cost $77 per watt for a simple solar cell. According to Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research’s Q3 2017 Solar Market Insight Report, the cost of a solar cell now is $0.21 per watt. An entire assembled module is $0.39 per watt.

3. Solar Energy is cheaper than fossil fuels

According to Lazard’s Levelized Cost Of Energy Analysis-Version 11.0, solar energy costs as little as 4.3 cents per kWh on an unsubsidized basis, cheaper than nearly every option for new fossil-fuel power plants. The cheapest fossil fuel option is natural gas, which costs between 4.2 and 7.8 cents per kWh.

Depending on where you’re looking at producing solar energy, it’s probably already cheaper than coal, diesel, nuclear, and in most cases, natural gas, particularly in the Southern U.S. If the pattern of cost reductions is any indication, it won’t be long before solar blows away every form of fossil fuel on a cost basis.

Source: Nasdaq.com

Date: January 2018

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