Solar power energy has been around for quite a while. Not as long as Betty White, but at this point, nothing will surpass that woman. Not even Keith Richards. However, it’s been around a lot longer than you think. Even still, there are some pretty nifty facts about this abundant energy source that might surprise you. Might even still inspire you to go solar in your own home, which, especially if you live in sunny Southern California, isa direction you should be headed anyway. These are some of our favorite facts about solar power and how it benefits you and the rest of the world.

It Come From France

Like many fine things (cheese, wine, art) the French were at the forefront of bring solar power to our world. French physicist Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect in 1839, which is the basic operating principle for solar panels. This effect takes the sun’s rays and converts them into energy. The first solar panel, though, was created in 1941 by Russell Ohl, and it was first commercially distributed by Bell Laboratories in 1954. It would still be several decades before its popularity and use would explode, but thank goodness for science.

Solar Power Is The Most Abundant Clean Energy Source

It’s true! It only takes one hour of sunlight to power earth’s energy for an entire year. Yeah, let’s read that again, shall we? One hour of sunlight can power the earth for a year! Solar provides energy in two ways; photovoltaic which converts sunlight into electricity, and solar thermal which – you guessed it – provides heat. It’s amazing to think we’ve gone this long without more serious investments in this bright spot of energy production.

Solar Can Power Planes

This is something we as a whole society should be pushing. A Boeing 747 burns through one gallon of gas in one second. One. Second. But in early 2016, Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard (of course his name is Piccard) flew around the world relying entirely on solar. Taking off from Abu Dhabi, his plane the Solar Impulse II returned safely to land in July. We already know solar can power trains and cars, but this is huge for international and domestic flight travel. 

Community Solar Is Gaining Traction

Many folks already have their solar panels installed. But if your home isn’t well suited for solar, what do you do? Join a community solar plant, of course. It’s still in early phases, only being adopted last year, but by building a solar farm to power hundreds of thousands of houses, whole neighborhoods and towns can benefit from this clean energy without having to install on their own property. Perfect for lower-income communities and houses with lots of shade. 

Your Solar Panels Work Come Rain Or Shine

Solar panels will continue to convert sunlight into energy even on the cloudiest of days. Granted, the amount of energy your panels are able to generate will be drastically lower on these rainy days, they keep on trucking. In fact, the only time that they don’t work is at night when there is no sun in the sky. This is also why it’s best to keep trees trimmed back and prevent shade from covering your panels for long stretches of time.