10 Intriguing Facts About Solar Energy for 2018 and Beyond

Top Ten Most Intriguing Solar Energy Facts

The top ten most interesting solar facts might surprise you. Solar energy research and development is at all-time high. We define a solar energy fact as an event, technology, or product related to solar energy or solar power and worthy of note.

  1. A Crazy Amount of Sunshine

Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on earth — 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strikes the Earth continuously according to energy.gov. That’s more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use.

  1. How Much is 1GWh?

Today, demand for solar in the United States is at an all-time high. The amount of solar power installed in the U.S. has increased more than 23 times over the past eight years — from 1.2 gigawatts (GW) in 2008 to an estimated 27.4 GW at the end of 2015. That’s enough energy to power the equivalent of 5.4 million average American homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. The U.S. is currently the third-largest solar market in the world and is positioned to become the second.

  1. Surpassed Nuclear?

According to the Factbook, “Sustainable energy deployment soared to record levels in 2017, cementing its role as a key contributor to U.S. energy.” Further, says Rachel Luo, lead author of the report, “At 18% of the power mix, renewable energy resources including hydropower are making nearly as large a contribution to U.S. electricity generation as the country’s nuclear fleet.”

The Bloomberg 2017 New Energy Outlook predicts that “$10.2 trillion will be spent on new power generation worldwide through 2040, and a massive 72 percent of this will be invested in new wind and solar plants.”

Everyone agrees, solar is just getting better.

  1. Greatest Number of Photovoltaic Installations Ever!

The solar industry continues to break records. By now it is old news that Tesla installed the largest array of solar panels and batteries ever, heralded as “the world’s largest virtual power plant” in 50,000 South Australian homes (Fehrenbacher).

But, did you also know that. . ..

Globally, experts at GTM estimate, 104 gigawatts of solar power will be installed for the first time. This number represents a 6% increase in solar installations this year over last. Further, this size of increase each year is projected to remain constant until 2022 (Munsell).

To make this amount of solar energy real, recall that 1 gigawatt powers about 725,000 homes, assuming each home uses about 1,000kw’s of electricity per month as the US Energy Administration estimates indicate (Ellery). So, each year, theoretically, enough power to run roughly 7 million homes is, and will be, added to our power grid each year.

GTM also estimates by the end of 2018, thirteen countries will install more than 1 gigawatt per year.

Thanks to Green Technology Media for the graphic.
  1. Europeans Invest 5 Billion in Solar

French company EDF announced plans to add an additional 10 gigawatts of energy storage in addition to its existing 5 gigawatts. The company will spend about 8 billion Euros or 10 billion dollars between 2018 and 2035.

EDF is already a leader in energy storage, specializing in solar and hydroelectric storage. They aspire “to help ensure the smooth running of a balanced electricity system, for residential customers, businesses and countries” (“EDF”). EDF primarily serves customers in France and Europe with an additional 15,000 solar storage installations on the Ivory Coast with plans for projects in Ghana.

Along with EDF, other European energy bigwigs, including Enel, E.ON and Total, are also investing in solar storage. For EDF, “higher levels of solar penetration and a rapid decline in energy storage costs have made batteries an attractive way to shift peak load and reduce stress on the electric grid,” according to GTM.

  1. Online Training for Solar Installation
Thanks to NASA on Unsplash for the photo.

It has never been easier to become a solar installer, and some would argue that there has also never been a better time to do so. With constant improvements in solar technology driving rapid and sustained growth in the solar industry even in the current climate of handicapping tariffs and diminishing government subsidies.

Things are so good in solar right now that we are adding over a gigawatt a year just in solar installations, and the costs associated with installing solar energy systems has dropped a full 90% over the last decade! Now, that’s what we call progress and a full-fledged, lasting boom.

And we have every reason to feel sure that this energy boom won’t bust any too soon. Remember that, according to the Bloomberg 2017 New Energy Outlook, “$10.2 trillion will be spent on new power generation worldwide through 2040, and a massive 72 percent of this will be invested in new wind and solar plants.” That sounds like 22 years of steady work for solar installers and manufacturers.

Click here if you would like to know what the salary ranges are.

The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is the main certifying body for solar energy professionals. The NABCEP is a non-profit organization offering certifications for both PV Installation Professional and PV Technical Sales and Solar Heating.

The programs below are schools that prepare students for the NABCEP certificate. Solar Energy International offers both the NABCEP program of study and the Solar Professionals Certificate Program (SPCP). Read more about the schools offering the certificates.

Here is the link to our search in case you would like to do your own footwork.



The everbluetraining.com website says, “If you’re interested in an entry level solar certification, we invite you to take our NABCEP PV Associate training course. This solar energy training course is designed to help individuals understand the fastest growing form of power generation in the world – solar power.”  Everblue offers an exam prep boot camp to prepare students to pass the certification test, and offers corporate training options.



Heatsping offers a 58-Hour NABCEP Advanced Solar PV Training Series, taught by Dr, Shaun White, which satisfies the requirement for advanced training needed to sit for the certificate. This training can fulfill the 58 hours of advanced training you need to sit for the NABCEP PV. The program consists of 12 learning modules and two courses, Solar PV Installer Boot Camp and NABCEP PV Associate Exam Prep and then after passing the NABCEP exam, students complete the second course, 40-Hour Advanced Solar PV Installer Training.

Eco Tech Training


Eco Tech offers both hands-on and online training leading to the NABCEP PV. Classes are student-driven and additional programs of study are available. Eco Tech offers all classes both live with an instructor and online.

Solar Energy International


Possibly the best of the schools we reviewed, Solar Energy International’s program tracks include the Residential and Commercial Photovoltaic Systems Certificate, Battery-Based Photovoltaic Systems Certificate, Solar Business and Technical Sales Certificate, International and Developing World Applications Certificate, Renewable Energy Applications Certificate, and Solar Professionals Trainer Certificate.

Except for the trainer certificate, tuition ranges from around $3,500-$6,000. Tuition price varies depending on whether students choose online or classroom versions of classes. Courses range from a free 6-week course called Introduction to Renewable Energy to master’s level courses.

  1. Solar Panel That Uses Rain to Make Electricity

Previously, the one solid, incontrovertible disadvantage of using solar energy has been the unfortunate truth that sometimes the sun doesn’t shine because it is raining or overcast. Solar panels need sunlight, right? Au contraire. According to The Guardian, an invention by Baoquan Sun, at Soochow University in China, “places two transparent polymer layers on top of a solar photovoltaic (PV) cell [and]. . . When raindrops fall on to the layers and then roll off, the friction generates a static electricity charge” (“rain or shine”).

This device will even collect energy in the dark. At this moment, there is only an experimental version of the device in operation, but Sun says we can expect the product to make it to the market in 3-5 years.

Other researchers have invented similar devices, but Sun’s new device is incorporated directly into the solar panel, making it more lightweight and usable.

  1. Mobile Rolling Solar Panels Create Mobile Electricity Station

This slick mobile electricity generating station uses roll-out solar panels connected to inverters and batteries onboard the trailer that houses it and can be pulled by any 4×4 vehicle (www.renovagen.com). And that’s not all.

This solar set-up, called the Roll-Array, can be installed by two people in about two minutes. According to the website, simply “drive the car forward and allow the spool to pull the Roll-Array out like a carpet. And voila, your solar panels are dropped in a matter of two minutes.”

Normally, installing a solar array takes about 22 hours. An additional benefit of this system is that no additional workers are needed because everything you need to generate solar energy is pre-wired and pre-connected.

Another benefit is that this array can provide as much as 100kWp, a full ten times more than other mobile solar installations, and it doesn’t even require a diesel generator.


Something similar for those of us who don’t buy entire power stations.


  1. Blockchain is a Crazy-Good Idea

According to Google, blockchain is “a digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically and publicly.” Blockchain transactions leave a reliable and permanent record.”

To understand blockchain, Ameer Rosic, writing on https://blockgeeks.com, advises us to “Picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchain.”

We suggest you picture a big wallet floating over the USA. A man in Arizona made extra solar energy today while another man in Michigan needed extra energy today. Mr. Michigan prefers to use clean energy, so today he deposits into that big wallet in the sky. In response, Mr. Arizona sells Mr. Michigan solar energy through the blockchain. Tomorrow, Ms. Florida and Ms. Massachusetts may do the same thing.

  1. Average American Families Can Afford Solar

The average US home uses around 9000kwh of electricity per month. Several solar installation companies sell solar kits that will produce 9000kwhs per month for around $13,000.00. Some even have financing available.

According to The Guardian, “Solar power installation is soaring globally thanks to costs plunging 90% in the past decade, making it the cheapest electricity in many parts of the world.”

The biggest hurdle for affordable solar energy is “the soft costs — like permitting, zoning and hooking a solar system up to the power gird. On average, local permitting and inspection processes add more than $2,500 to the total cost of a solar energy system and can take up to six months to complete” (The SunShot Initiative).

The following companies install solar energy systems and have informative websites. According to Jacob Marsh’s recent article in energysage.com, these companies are the top players in residential solar installation. We include links to the companies’ websites for your convenience.


Sunrun is one of the largest solar companies in the US, installing solar panel systems in 22 states. Sunrun has been in business since 2007. Sunrun has recently gotten into the energy storage market. Sunrun offers leases, power purchase agreements (PPA’s), and offers loans to help you pay for your solar energy system.


Vivint Solar started out doing business as Vivint Home Security, but in 2011 it became Vivint Solar. Serving over 100,000 customers in 21 states, Vivint originally installed solar panels free, often with a PPA-like program. Like Sunrun, Vivint now offers $0 down plans, PPAs, full ownership models, and has a solar loan program.


Sunova has its headquarters in Houston, but also does business in 21 states and U.S. territories. Sunnova doesn’t have in-house installation or maintenance workers. Rather Sunova partners with local installers. Fortunately, Sunnova’s solar energy packages are on $0 down terms and include options to either own the system or lease it.


SunPower produces some of the most recommended solar panels. They also only partner with local installers, giving them authorization to sell and install SunPower products. SunPower plans to expand into community solar soon.


Although SolarCity has recently decreased its residential installation and maintenance, it is still one of the larger US solar companies. Founded by Elon Musk’s famous cousins (Tesla) in 2006, SolarCity currently serves 27 states and was just acquired by Tesla in 2016. What’s hot and interesting right now about SolarCity is that it is producing its recently upgraded solar roof in a huge factory in Buffalo, New York, called Gigafactory 2.

You can click here to search for an installer on the energysage.com website free of charge. They claim to have a list of 450 qualified and pre-screened installation companies and a searchable database. We think they are cool, but as we always caution, caveat emptor.

We thought you’d like to know about power purchase agreements (PPA’s) since you might soon enter into one.

According to Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) a PPA “is a financial agreement where a developer arranges for the design, permitting, financing and installation of a solar energy system on a customer’s property at little to no cost. The developer sells the power generated to the host customer at a fixed rate that is typically lower than the local utility’s retail rate.” So, literally, a PPA is a type of payment agreement.

Thanks to SEIA for the image.

Suggested Resources

Visit the NREL, EIA, SEIA, and Solar Technologies Office websites for more solar energy resources.


Works Cited

Bloomberg Energy Finance. “2018 Sustainable Energy Factbook.” Factbook. 2018. Internet.

Davies, Ellery. “https://www.quora.com/How-many-homes-can-one-gigawatt-in-energy-capacity-provide-for.” 24 May 2016. https://www.quora.com. Webpage. 27 April 2018.

Deign, Jason. “https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/imagining-two-futures-for-energy-blockchain?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=GTMDaily#gs.rwTY0tI.” 23 February 2018. https://www.greentechmedia.com. Webpage. 30 April 2018.

Fehrenbacher, Katie. “https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/tesla-virtual-power-plant-south-australia#gs.V65Nel4.” 6 February 2018. https://www.greentechmedia.com. Webpage. 27 April 2018.

Froese, Michelle. https://www.windpowerengineering.com/business-news-projects/key-findings-2018-sustainable-energy-america-factbook/. 23 February 2018. Webpage. 20 April 2018.

“http://www.renovagen.com/?services=rollable-pv-array.” 19 April 2016. http://www.renovagen.com. Webpage. 24 April 2018.

https://www.energy.gov/articles/top-10-things-you-didnt-know-about-concentrating-solar-power. 31 October 2013. Print. 10 March 2018.

https://www.energy.gov/articles/top-6-things-you-didnt-know-about-solar-energy. n.d. Webpage. 28 March 2018.

“https://www.google.com/search?safe=active&source=hp&ei=2YbnWuy-DOSijwTJr5qYDA&q=what+is+blockchain&oq=what+is+bolck&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0i10k1l10.860.2714.0.9990.….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..3.11.1223.0..0j35i39k1j0i131i67k1j0i67k1j0.” 30 April 2018. https://www.google.com. Webpage. 30 April 2018.

“https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/13/rain-or-shine-new-solar-cell-captures-energy-from-raindrops.” 13 March 2018. https://www.theguardian.com. Webpage. 23 April 2018.

Lacey, Stephen. “https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/imagining-two-futures-for-energy-blockchain#gs.df8bxDk.” 11 April 2018. https://www.greentechmedia.com. Webpage. 30 April 2018.

Lawrence, Richard. “https://www.letsgosolar.com/consumer-education/solar-jobs-careers-certifications/.” n.d. https://www.letsgosolar.com. Webpage. 28 April 208.

Marsh, Jason. “https://news.energysage.com/solar-power-companies-us/.” 31 January 2018. https://news.energysage.com. Webpage. 1 May 2018.

Munsell, Mike. “https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/tesla-virtual-power-plant-south-australia#gs.V65Nel4.” 16 April 2018. https://www.greentechmedia.com. Webpage. 27 April 2018.

Panels, Rolling Solar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9MAZLhm_9k. 11 March 2016. YouTube. 24 April 2018.

Reid, Gerard. “http://energypost.eu/future-batteries-lithium-impact-will-bigger-think/.” 2017 15 December. energypost.eu. Webpage. 20 April 2018.

Rosic, Ameer. “https://blockgeeks.com/guides/what-is-blockchain-technology/.” 2016. https://blockgeeks.com. Webpage. 30 April 2018.

Spector, Julian. “https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/power-play-tesla-nabs-south-australia-contract-for-worlds-biggest-battery#gs._alf1jA.” 7 July 2017. https://www.greentechmedia.com. Webpage. 23 April 2018.

As always, its been a pleasure writing for you.




The Endless Advantages of Solar Energy Heavily Outweigh the Few Disadvantages

Advantages of Solar Energy

The advantages of solar energy are manifold. Solar energy is clean because it burns nothing, it is sustainable because the sun replenishes it daily, and it is free for everyone to use, while conversely, traditional fossil fuel energy is dirty burning, limited in supply, costly to deliver and messy to use.

Old Timers will be quick to chime that solar costs more to start with, and that is true. However, who buys a fossil fuel burning home and doesn’t weatherize and upgrade the furnace? No one in any northern state who pays the electric bill, that’s who. So, we will spend one way, or we will spend the other, but spend we will.

Solar energy systems begin paying back the initial cost as quickly as next month’s electricity bill doesn’t come. Most solar systems are designed to operate without repairs for 30 years.

Jim Schmid Photography, NREL

Read on for the extended discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy. Spoiler alert! With the ongoing research in battery technology, upgrades in the performance of solar panels, and more efficient converters, there just isn’t a downside to solar any more.

Tesla’s Powerwall with inverter and grid connection installed. Thanks to Google Images for the photo.

Battery Improvement

No one knows just how efficient lithium batteries may become, but technological advances in battery design are made nearly every day. Funding for energy storage research is abundant and flowing. According to the 2018 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, “Global clean energy investment rose to $333 billion, the second-highest amount on record.”

No one knows how large batteries may grow. Thanks to greentechmedia.com for the photo.

Affordable lithium ion batteries powerful enough to operate homes during rainy and dark periods have long been available. And the trend is for innovations to keep increasing the efficiency and performance of these batteries.


Moving Forward

More exciting battery storage options may be just over the horizon. Tesla is currently working on a virtual power plant that will be the largest battery installment to date. It will be made up of thousands of Powerwall home batteries linked to solar panels on residences in South Australia. These residential solar battery installments, “will operate just like a one big Powerpack system — charging up when demand and electricity rates are low and discharging when demand and prices are high” (“Tesla Virtual”).

Money, Money, Money

Even now solar storage batteries enable most homes with solar or wind installed to sell back a percentage of the energy they create. So not only do solar powered homes not have to buy electricity as often, they may also make a profit for homeowners.


Notably, solar powered homes with batteries don’t depend on electricity from the grid so are much less effected by grid outages. Literally, each home that has a solar panel and battery system is a small, fully self-sufficient energy generation system that does not rely on anything but sunshine.

Environmental Cost

While the final bill for fossil fuel use has yet to be presented, we know for sure the sun doesn’t hurt the Earth. Contrarily, the sun feeds and sustains the Earth, so its energy is incontrovertibly safe. Safe in this instance also means cheap. The initial investment in material combined with minimal maintenance and occasional upgrades in equipment compose the only expenses involved in solar energy production since the sun delivers right to our doors.


Abundance and Renewal of Solar

Estimates on the actual amount of solar energy that shines on the Earth each day all agree that we are oversupplied with solar energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “more energy strik[es]. . . the earth’s surface in one and a half hours (480 EJ) 67 than worldwide energy consumption in the year 2001 from all sources combined (430 EJ)68.”

  • Solar energy definition
  • Solar energy facts
  • Solar energy companies
  • Solar energy system
  • Uses of solar energy
  • Solar energy projects
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  • Sustainable energy
  • Geothermal energy
  • Wind power

Limited Supply of Burnable and Existing Fossil Fuel Reserves

One the other hand, way on the other hand, scientists agree (97% of scientists) that we have only a short time to keep burning fossil fuels before we increase the carbon in our atmosphere past the tipping point. The tipping point is when we will have released enough carbon by burning petroleum and coal that climate change is past fixing. We aren’t there yet, but we are very close.

A 2015 estimate of fossil fuel reserves still in the ground indicate that “at current rates of production, oil will run out in 53 years, natural gas in 54, and coal in 110. We have managed to deplete these fossil fuels – which have their origins somewhere between 541 and 66 million years ago – in less than 200 years since we started using them” (“How long”).

Whereas the sun shines every day amply renewing itself, to replenish fossil fuels we need between 56 and 541 million years to repopulate the planet with some millions of dinosaurs and let enough of them live and die so that their bodies slowly become fossil fuel. It’s hard to list how many things are wrong with that plan.

Estimates of how much more oil, gas, and coal we can burn before we fully cause climate change to melt our polar ice caps and precipitate another ice age say that we should leave most of our current oil, coal and gas reserves in the ground.

Thanks to Google for the photo. Some say strip mining for coal is an ugly insult to the Earth.

Cost of Refitting for Solar Versus the Cost of Maintaining Fossil Burners

A solar system for your residence is still a little pricey at the outset. Solar panel prices have dropped by half in the last six years (“The Future”). According to energysage.com,

The average solar energy system size in the U.S is approximately 5                      kilowatts (kW). Based on the average price of $3.14/watt, a 5kW system            would cost $10,990 after tax credits. Below are some average 2018                      quotes for other solar energy systems by size:

  •           6kW solar energy system cost: $13,188
  •           8kW solar energy system cost: $17,584
  •           10kW solar energy system cost: $21,980

Wonderfully, a solar energy system begins paying back dividends to the homeowner within the same or next month it is installed.

Solar power users never have to call the supplier to have more sun delivered. The sun will not run aground and spill oil. No pipelines will ever be needed to transport sunshine. Using the sun’s energy does not create any exhaust or pollution. The sun will always shine at your house on most days. When the sun is overcast at your house, your solar batteries will kick in and continue running your home until the sun comes back out.

If you doubt that a battery could do such a thing, then try one of the newer electric lawnmowers. Batteries have matured. The one below charges whole cars.

Even the Armed Forces love solar. Defense experts agree that reliance on foreign sources of energy makes our country vulnerable to the vagaries of other economies and governments. Energy self-sufficiency, both at the public and private level is preferable.

No discussion of the advantages of solar energy would be complete without the following video.

Read More News About Solar Energy Here

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

These are few. We scraped the barrel for you. Because of so many recent advancements in battery and panel technology, the long list of former complaints about solar energy, such as that solar cars and batteries didn’t perform well, are simply outdated ideas.

There are still some disadvantages to using solar energy: initial high cost of installation and equipment, solar energy production is lower in winter months, and larger solar panels may be necessary depending on location.


Solar is so very obviously the choice for us now and in the future. We tried to be even-handed in our assessment of the pros and cons of installing solar, but as you probably noticed, it was just not possible to tell the truth about solar without praising it.

It is unfortunate that the realities of clean renewable energies like wind and solar aren’t better known because the very instant people learn about this clean energy, common sense asserts itself, and they embrace renewable energy. It’s just a no-brainer: spend approximately $11,000.00 today and never dread your electric bill’s arrival again.

Solar energy offers irresistible benefits. With a minimal investment people can own the means of the production of their own power, power which pays cash back, day after day. Many people suffer without electricity during power outages, some for as long as months. People with their own solar systems at home never suffer long outages. Now is a very fine time to use and promote clean solar and wind energy.

An Epitaph for Fossil Fuels

Human development owes much proper credit to the progress we’ve made because we could use fossil fuels to create more light, warmth and mobility for human beings. We simply would not be at our current level of advancement without the leg-up that plentiful fossil fuels provided for us.

Ironically, the only reason we are able to collect solar and so many other types of renewable fuels is because we had years’ of abundant, cheap energy from those same fossil fuels. That said, the fossil fuel ship has simply sailed. There isn’t too much of it left that we can safely use, and even if it were safe to use all we have, there is only so much left in the ground.

Works Cited

https://www.energy.gov/eere/articles/how-much-power-1-gigawatt. n.d. webpage. 18 March 2018.

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/tesla-virtual-power-plant-south-australia?utm_source=Storage&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=GTMStorage#gs.=Lfdxdw. February 2018. Webpage. 30 March 2018.

https://www.nrel.gov/workingwithus/re-csp.html. n.d. Web page. 18 March 2018.

In 2018, most homeowners are paying between $2.71 and $3.57 per watt to install solar, and the average gross cost of solar panels before tax credits is $18,840. Using the U.S, average for system size at 6 kW (6,000 watts), solar panel cost will range from. 18 February 2018. Webpage. 31 March 2018.

Singh, Siddharth. “http://www.business-standard.com/article/punditry/how-long-will-fossil-fuels-last-115092201397_1.html.” 22 September 2015. http://www.business-standard.com. Webpage. 5 April 2018.

Vice. “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zd8O5YE8Uak.” The Future of Energy. Vice, 21 June 2017. Video. 31 March 2018.

Suggested Reading 

www.greentechmedia.com: these folks are up to the minute on all US solar issues. They publish an email newsletter and maintain an informational website.

www.YouTube.com: we recommend you sample a few of the available videos about solar energy. We were astounded at the variety of solar energy applications.

As always, its been a pleasure writing for you.