5 Essential Solar Panel Facts

Just how far does your solar panel knowledge extend? At some point, you may have wondered what solar panels are made of or even when they were made. If that is the case, then you’ve come to the right place. If nothing else, you’ll be shocked at how large the biggest solar power plant in the world is. But, don’t worry; I won’t spoil it for you. Keep reading to find out, because, in this article, we are going to fill you in on the essential what, when, and how facts of solar panels. Let’s begin!

What are solar panels made of?
Solar panels are made up of semiconductors that are capable of converting light into energy. These semiconductors are referred to as solar cells. The first solar cell ever created was made of the element Selenium; however, it was not a very efficient energy source. It did, however, demonstrate the capability of specific materials to use the sun as a way to produce electricity. Most commercial solar panels today use silicon coated with other metals as a semiconductor; this is one of the most renowned ways to create solar cells in the solar power field today. A large group of solar cells forms a solar module, and a large group of solar modules forms a complete solar panel.

When was the first solar panel created?
The first solar cell was created in 1829 by the French physicist Alexandre Edmond Becquerel, and after his findings, many scientists furthered his work by designing more efficient cells. This research led up to Jan Czochralski’s development of the first single-crystal silicon cell in 1918 (much like the cells we use today). And finally, the first solar panel was developed in the 1950’s and used to help power the world’s first solar-powered satellite in 1958.

How much do solar panels cost?
Solar panels are priced by wattage. The price of solar panels continues to decline year after year, but as of now, the standard rate for a panel is calculated by the wattage. The cost per watt is $1. This means that a 100-watt panel costs $100 and a 1000 watt panel costs $1000. Of course, prices vary from place to place, but this is a reliable average. Furthermore, this amount only reflects the panel itself; there are a lot of accessories that are required to run a complete solar power setup. For an entire installation, you would be looking at more than triple the price of just the panels alone.

What is the lifespan of a solar panel?
In areas with moderate weather, the effectiveness of a solar panel degrades at roughly 0.4% per year. This means that after 20 years, a panel will still retain 92% of its power. In some places where the weather is excellent year-round, degradation rates can be as low as 0.2% per year (96% after 20 years). Severe weather circumstances such as heavy winds, snow, UV exposure, and extreme heat can drastically reduce the lifespan of a solar panel. In areas with extreme weather conditions such as those above, a solar panel’s power degrades at about 1% per year; therefore, after 20 years, the panel would only be able to produce 80% of its original number.

What is the largest solar power plant?
To protect the environment and save money on the cost of energy, many countries have built solar power plants. The largest power plant in the world can be found in the town of Kamuthi, located in Tamil Nadu, India. This solar power facility is home to 2.5 million solar modules, stretches over ten sq. km., and is reported to have enough power to provide electricity to a whopping 150,000 homes.

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