The installation of solar panels is one of the many ways to bet on greener, sustainable and cleaner energy and thus take care of the planet and, once the initial installation is amortized, also achieve economic savings.
Today we are going to dive into the lesser-known face of solar panels to tell you 10 curiosities about this technique for absorbing solar radiation, from its origins to today.
The first photovoltaic cell
Starting with what makes a solar panel work, perhaps most importantly, the first commercial photovoltaic cell was invented in 1954 by Bell Laboratories, who were the first to present the first cell that obtained electrical energy directly from sunlight. with enough efficiency and power to operate a transistor radio.
The authors were Gerald Pearson, a physicist, Daryl Chapin, an electrical engineer, and Calvin Fuller, a chemist. Later, the USSR implemented them in some of its satellites to carry out different missions in space. Since then, they claim that the efficiency of solar cells has increased to about 40%.
Albert Einstein and the Law of the Photoelectric Effect
Another pioneer in the advancement of solar energy was the genius Albert Einstein, who in 1921 won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of the Law of the Photoelectric Effect .
In 1905 Einstein explained that light is transported in tiny packets of energy, which depend on the frequency of light, thus providing a seed that would contribute to the development of quantum physics and which became the basis for photovoltaic generation.
How long does light take to reach Earth?
Nothing can be faster than light that travels at more than 1,000 million kilometers per hour and 299,792.45 kilometers per second. How long does it take for light to reach Earth? It takes 8 minutes and 19 seconds to reach the planet and a few seconds to be captured by the solar panels.
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If we talk about photons, things change and a photon takes about 1 million years to leave the core of the Sun to its surface.
How many would it take to supply the entire planet?
According to different calculations, if we wanted to feed the entire Earth with renewable energy, we would have to install solar panels on more than 494,687 km² . As a reference, this would be almost the entire size of Spain, which has an approximate area of 505,990 km².
In other words, if we completely covered Spain with solar panels from end to end and in every area of its surface, we could more than supply energy to the rest of the world.
They also work on rainy or cloudy days
One of the great myths of the solar energy absorption system is that solar panels only work on bright days, while they are “off” the rest of the time.
Well no. It is not necessary that there is a radiant sun for your panels to generate energy. Solar panels will be able to continue producing and generating savings even if the day is cloudy, since they can use both direct and indirect sunlight .
As for the rain, it can reduce the production capacity of the plant, but also the rainwater washes away accumulated dirt or dust so that they can absorb sunlight more effectively. In addition, this water will also help to cool them down, lowering the temperature of the panels and improving their performance.
They have their utility at night
Linked to the previous section, once sunset arrives and it gets dark, there will be no sunlight that the solar panels can collect . However, they are still useful because many people also install an accumulator that allows them to spend the energy absorbed during the day.
If we install this storage, we will be able to use at night all the energy that we have been accumulating throughout the day . The problem is that doing this increases the cost of installing this system, but it can be done, not as a politician said some time ago.
The world leader in solar energy
If you were wondering which country dominates the rest of the world in terms of solar energy, it is China . According to the International Renewable Energy Agency IRENA, China is the leader in solar installations with more than 35% of the world’s capacity and is followed by the United States with 10.6%. In the case of Europe, Germany is the country with the most solar energy installations throughout its entire territory.
Some of the largest solar installations in the world are located in the Asian country and are serving to accelerate the urbanization and development processes of large Chinese cities.
Larger photovoltaic installations
Curiously, if we look at the magnitude of these solar panel installations, four of the ten largest photovoltaic installations in the world are in India. This country has photovoltaic parks such as the Bhadla Solar Park , which is located in the Thar desert in western Rajasthan.
Because its climate is sunny almost all year round, this town is called the “city of the sun.” Specifically, the plant has a total capacity of 2,245 MW and occupies a total of 5,665 hectares. At full capacity, the Bhadla Solar Park generates the total energy demand of the Rajasthan region, home to more than 70 million people.
The solar energy that is lost
Each square meter of our planet receives about 1,366 watts of direct solar radiation . If you could capture all the solar energy that hits the Earth’s surface in a single hour, you could supply the energy needed to cover the entire consumption of the entire planet for a year.
As we can see, installing solar panels means taking advantage of energy that is there and that is otherwise wasted and would go far beyond what we currently use.
We could not consume all the energy of the Sun
The Sun emits much more energy to Earth than we are capable of consuming, firstly because it is 109 times larger than our planet Earth (the Sun’s diameter of 1,392,000 kilometers is 109 times, while the equatorial diameter of the Earth of 12,756 km).
For this reason, it is capable of emitting 4,000 times more energy than what we consume . The solar radiation that the Earth receives in one hour is equivalent to the annual consumption of electricity in the world.