Out of all of the renewable energies in the world, solar is the cleanest and most renewable. Solar energy is widely known as a leading source of power for both commercial and residential properties.
Although solar power has been around for quite some time, recent advancements in technology have made it more efficient and cost-effective than ever before. In fact, the cost of solar panels has dropped by over 70% in the last decade alone!
If you’re considering making the switch to solar, then you’ll want to know all about the benefits and costs associated with this clean energy source.
Here are 87 solar panel statistics that you should know.
- By 2050, the world’s power supply may be entirely solar-based, with solar energy accounting for around 60 percent of global electricity consumption.
- China aims to be the first country on Earth to capture space solar energy and transmit it wirelessly by 2050.
- Over the next five years, the global solar energy supply would rise by 600 GW.
- Solar energy technology is expected to cut spaceship weight by half and eliminate 75% of the space occupied by energy-storage components.
- Solar power offsets almost 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year in the United States, which is nearly equivalent to 131 million acres of forest.
- Solar Star, the world’s largest solar farm, is 4 times the size of Central Park and produces around 579 megawatts.
- The United States has over 242,000 solar workers – more than the coal, oil, and natural gas industries combined.
World Solar Panel Statistics
1. Washington Taylor, a physics professor, claims that every second, 173,000 terawatts (TW) of solar energy strike the Earth. This is more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy consumption at the time. To put this into perspective, the world’s population now consumes approximately 23900 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity each year — most of which comes from fossil fuels (MIT.edu)
2. Solar capacity is the maximum amount of power that a country, such as a nation or a solar farm, can produce. The worldwide solar capacity grew from 716.2 gigawatts in 2020 to 722.4 GW in 2021, according to Bloomberg. In fact, in 2021, an amazing 183 GW of new solar photovoltaic (PV) was added by some analysts (Iea.org).
3. During 2019, the average amount of solar energy utilized per person was 232 kWh, according to Our World in Data. Australia topped the list for consuming the most solar power per capita in 2019 – it used 1,764 kWh – followed by Japan, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates (Iea.org).
4. Renewable energy generated 29% of worldwide electricity in 2020, up from 27% in 2019, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Hydropower accounted for over half of all renewable energy produced worldwide during this period (57.8%), with wind providing 21.4%, and solar 11.4% (Iea.org).
5. While sunshine is essential for solar panels, you must ensure that they do not overheat. Solar panels should be kept at a temperature of about 25°C to function effectively (Cedgreentech.com).
6. China may be number one in terms of scale and strength of its solar plants, but the world’s biggest solar panel plant is located in India. With a capacity of 2.26 GW, India’s Bhadla Solar Park is the world’s largest solar panel facility (Pv-magazine.com).
7. One year of solar saves 18,000 miles of driving. 1,000,000 full smartphone charges. 12,500 pounds of carbon emission. 8,000 pounds of coal. 122 trees (Sunbadger.com).
8. The carbon footprint of solar PV panels is on average around 85 tons of CO2 equivalent per GW (Sciencedirect.com).
9. Solar energy has already eclipsed wind energy as the world's fastest-growing source of renewable power generation. Solar now accounts for more than 55 percent of all new renewable energy created worldwide (Theguardian.com).
10. By 2050, the world's power supply may be entirely solar-based, with solar energy accounting for around 60 percent of global electricity consumption (Irena.org).
11. The first long-range fully solar-powered car Lightyear One will hit production lines in 2021 (Lightyear.one).
12. In 2021, the United States will most likely have 3 million solar panels and 4 million in 2023 (Irena.org).
13. China aims to be the first country on Earth to capture space solar energy and transmit it wirelessly by 2050 (Digitaltrends.com).
14. Isaac Asimov introduced the notion of space-based solar power schemes in his sci-fi novella "Reason" in 1941. (CNBC, Goodreads, & Interesting Engineering)
15. It's possible that a small fraction of agricultural land – less than 1% - can satisfy the world's thirst for electricity (ScienceDaily).
16. According to RS data, 80 of the world's 100 largest cities need to devote less than 10% of their land area to solar energy generation, illustrating how vital greater density is for solar panel production. (The Telegraph, RS, & USA Today).
17. Yuma, Arizona, is the sunniest location on Earth, with over 4,000 hours of sunshine each year. Yuma could satisfy the power demand of Paris, the globe's most energy-hungry city, twice over in theory. These solar energy facts and insights highlight how much sunlight is enough to power our countries (SeattlePI, The Telegraph, & RS).
18. Solar energy is available at all times and in any location. Solar and wind power statistics and optimistic growth projections for renewables pale in comparison to the sun's overall energy, which is dispersed in space. According to one estimate, only a tiny fraction of the star's 2.3 billion solar power output reaches Earth. If we could figure out how to collect, convert, and distribute space solar power effectively, these facts about the sun and solar energy would be able to solve many of the world's most pressing industrial and environmental challenges (National Space Society).
19. The Wattway, a €5-million 2,800-panel road in France that stretched one kilometer to a little Normandy town and was constructed three years after installation, has been labeled an unmitigated disaster. The Wattway was established despite the better judgment of professionals, who considered it a road to nowhere from the start. The station never met its target of generating 790 kilowatt-hours each day throughout its history. The Wattway's most productive year was its inaugural one, when it produced 409 kWh of green energy per day, according to solar energy facts and statistics. Its performance dropped as the condition worsened owing to excessive vehicle weight, unstoppable weather damage, and disappointing design failure, managing to produce only 200 kWh per day last year (Popular Mechanics, Interesting Engineering, & ExtremeTech).
20. The carbon emissions generated during the production of solar PV panels total roughly 85 tons of CO2 eq per gigawatt-hour (GWh). As the adoption rate for renewable energy increases, so does the information about solar energy and its advantages and disadvantages. The reality, however, is that we still cannot produce PV cells without polluting the environment with greenhouse gases. (EnergySage).
21. Solar panels also produce NF3 (nitrogen trifluoride) and SF6 (sulfur hexafluoride), which are greenhouse gases. The former is more dangerous than CO2 by over 17,000 times, whereas the latter is roughly 400 times more harmful due to its high global warming potential. According to some positive information about solar energy, emissions from manufacturing plants might be trapped. Any significant breaches, on the other hand, may alter this narrative (Intelizon).
22. The ratio between poly-silicon and SiCl4 (silicon tetrachloride) is 4:1. The refinement procedure to produce polysilicon, an essential ingredient in solar panel manufacturing, results in the formation of significant amounts of SiCl4, which can be a severe hazard when exposed to H2O. The unintended creation of this inorganic compound alone will not damage the overall balance between good and bad information on solar energy production. SiCl4 may be produced into more poly-silicon after all. However, due to the high cost, most manufacturing plants lack the equipment required to recycle this byproduct. (TriplePundit)
23. Thin-film solar cells, like the ones you find in high-tech gadgets like Google's new Pixel smartphones, use a unique material called copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS). One of the benefits of solar energy produced by thin-film panels is lower emissions when compared to traditional units. However, because of their manufacture, CIGS metal scarcity has increased dramatically, which will worsen as end-of-life recovery improves (Energy Informative, EnergySage, & ScienceDirect).
24. Salvageable metals account for less than 11% of the average PV panel. According to recycling statistics, one of the most significant drawbacks of solar energy production is its low recyclability. Because there are so few of them, solar panel recycling will not be profitable enough to become a profession on its own, let alone thrive (TriplePundit).
25. Apart from solar energy pollution facts, intermittent supply is another disadvantage that damages the sun's reputation as a power source. So far, solar energy has not proved to be a long-term answer for large economies like the United States and China. That is one of the primary reasons why only small countries like Costa Rica have been able to operate entirely on renewable energy for lengthy periods of time (MasterResource, Oilprice.com, & World Economic Forum).
26. The average decay rate for solar panels is about 0.8 percent per year. The typical solar panel will be used after 25 years when it will generate only 82.5% of the electricity it produced when initially installed. A premium unit, on the other hand, can now produce approximately 87.5% of the power it generated when originally installed, owing to advances in next-gen technology. These solar energy statistics are projected to improve over time as new technology becomes available, but they don't make contemporary PV panels more appealing in any way (EnergySage).
27. Since 1977, the cost of solar panels has dropped by 99%. The allure of solar energy is fading as time moves on, and its drawbacks are becoming increasingly apparent. The price has been a boon to many solar projects because it made them more economically viable (The Motley Fool & Energy Informative).
28. SolaRoad, a solar bike lane in the Netherlands, surpassed its annual power production target by generating 3,000 kWh. The 70-meter bicycle path with thin-film solar PV panels was completed only half a year ago and produces enough electricity to power three homes in the Netherlands for 365 days. It's possible that the project generated important pieces of information and historical facts about solar energy while also keeping the idea of solar roads alive.
29. By January 2020, the road surface had deteriorated severely in many areas, resulting in the installation of a sign warning of "Poor Road Surface" NL: Slecht Wegdek. In November 2020, the path was removed and deemed a failure (Futurism & Nature World News).
30. The UAE is the source of the lowest-cost solar power, according to the independent power producer model. In October 2019, the UAE became the location of the most cost-effective solar energy, with a price of 1.69 ￠ per kilowatt-hour (kWh). The 900 MW fifth stage of the MBR Solar Park was tendered by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, a government-owned utility. As of Q2 2021 approaches, expect this price to drop even more as ongoing Saudi Arabia efforts to decrease costs are expected to help drive down prices worldwide in 2020 and 2021. Even after accounting for previous record-setting sun energy industry facts since 2015, UAE retains its position as a global leader in cheap solar PV production (Forbes & Emirates News Agency).
31. Over the next five years, the global solar energy supply would rise by 600 GW. This is faster than the worldwide expansion of all renewable capacities during the same period. Indeed, it is one of the most optimistic and significant solar energy facts to date (The Guardian).
32. By 2024, China's overall solar power capacity will reach 370 GW. Based on this estimate, by a margin of over 100%, China will lead the United States, which is presently in the first place. Since 2001, China has been riding high in the solar sector due to its momentum; it will retain its position as the world's leading solar energy producer and installer of photovoltaic panels for years to come (World Economic Forum & Carbon Brief).
34. Solar energy technology is expected to cut spaceship weight by half and eliminate 75% of the space occupied by energy-storage components. According to NASA's Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) system, solar energy efficiency facts may be taken to new heights. In order to achieve this goal, NASA has designed a revolutionary solar-powered spacecraft that will be capable of traveling across the Solar System in under 20 years. This technology will not only improve solar energy statistics, but it will also open the door for fast and inexpensive space trips throughout the Solar System (Machine Design).
35. The sun alone gives off enough energy to power the earth's entire electrical grid. Solar radiation delivers 174,000 terawatts of energy to the planet at any moment, even on the cloudiest of days (MIT.edu).
36. One hour of sunshine is the same as one year's worth of energy for the planet (Businessinder.com).
37. When solar energy technologies and power plants operate, they don't produce air pollution or greenhouse gases. When solar energy is used instead of other energy sources with larger environmental effects, it may have a beneficial, indirect impact on the environment (EIA.gov).
38. Solar energy systems can last up to 40 years. But two decades later, solar power plants may still be of use. Solar panels will endure for at least 40 years, and the infrastructure surrounding a solar plant has significant worth (Caplor.co.uk).
39. The world's biggest solar thermal plant is the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, which is located in the Mojave Desert. It's in California and across the Nevada state line at Primm, Nevada. The facility has an overall capacity of 392 megawatts (MW) (Wikipedia.org).
40. In the United States, California generates the most solar energy (Wikipedia.org).
41. Solar energy consumers save up to 35 tons of carbon dioxide and 75 million barrels of oil each year (Euronews.com).
US Solar Panel Statistics
42. In 2021, the United States added 23.6 GWdc of solar PV capacity, enough to power more than 23 million homes, to reach 121.4 GWdc of total installed capacity. Solar accounted for a third of all new electricity-generating capacity installed in the US in 2021, marking the third year in a row that solar has dominated new installation (Seia.org).
43. In 2021, the solar economy is expected to show solid growth. The cost of solar energy will probably continue to grow in 2020 and beyond. For fixed-tilt projects, costs rose 18% year over year in Q4, while single-axis tracking project costs increased by 14.2%. Despite these headwinds, projections are still optimistic, including the potential consequences of any federal clean energy initiatives under consideration that would boost solar deployment projections by 66% over the next decade (Seia.org).
44. In 2021, solar costs in the United States increased by as much as 18% owing to supply chain bottlenecks, trade restrictions, and legislative uncertainty (U.S. Solar Market Insight 2021 Year in Review report).
45. By 2020, solar PV power generation is anticipated to have increased by a record 156 terawatt-hours (TWh), representing a 23% increase from 2019. Solar PV contributed 3.1 percent of worldwide electricity generation in 2019, remaining the third-largest renewable energy technology behind hydropower and onshore wind after surpassing bioenergy in the same year (Iea.org).
46. Solar energy provided around 2.8% of US power in 2021, and 13.5% of electricity generation from renewable sources. Photovoltaic (PV) and solar-thermal power are the two major forms of solar electricity generation. Solar cell conversion creates electricity directly from sunlight in a photovoltaic cell. Most solar thermal power generators use steam turbines to create electrical energy (Eia.gov).
47. Solar power offsets almost 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year in the United States, which is nearly equivalent to 131 million acres of forest (Seia.org).
48. The typical US home solar system is 5 kW, however, larger homes may require a 6 kW system. Assuming your system comprises 250-watt photovoltaic panels, it will have approximately 20 panels per house for around $11,000 (Marketwatch.com).
49. The average cost of a solar energy system in the US is between $10,000 and $30,000 (Energysage.com).
50. Solar Star, the world's largest solar farm, is 4 times the size of Central Park and produces around 579 megawatts. Solar has ranked in the top two for capacity added to the electric total in the United States since 2013. There are approximately 2,500 MW of utility-scale solar currently being built right now (Solarfeeds.com).
51. In the first three months of 2021, according to GTM Research's Q1 Wind Deployment Report, developers in the United States installed almost 40 percent more wind power than they did in the same period last year. This amount of development accounts for roughly three times as much wind addition to the grid during the first quarter of 2019 as it did in the previous quarter. Utility-scale solar and energy storage also performed well in Q1, keeping up with or exceeding past records (The Clean Power Quarterly Market Report).
52. Solar photovoltaic installers are expected to grow by 52 percent between 2020 and 2030, significantly faster than the average for all jobs. Solar photovoltaic installer employment is expected to rise by an average of 2,300 jobs each year during the decade (Bls.gov).
53. The United States has over 242,000 solar workers – more than the coal, oil, and natural gas industries combined (Thesolarfoundation.org)!
54. At 45.1%, women in Puerto Rico have the greatest proportion of solar employment of any state in the United States (Solarstates.org).
55. The state of California, alone, contributes 38.9% of the country's solar capacity and 31.7% of its solar employment (Solarstates.org).
56. Warranties typically last 25 to 30 years. Solar panels are expected to operate for a long time after the warranty expires, albeit with a 10-20% drop in efficiency (Solstice.us).
57. Today, 90-97 percent of a decommissioned panel's materials can be recycled into new panels or sold on the commodity market. In other words, panel recycling is expected to be a lucrative and growing business in the decades ahead (Solstice.us).
58. A single hour of solar radiation striking the Earth is more than all of humanity consumes in an entire year. Every hour, 430 quadrillion Joules of energy from the sun strike the Earth (the US Department of Energy).
59. Given that the United States uses about 4 petawatt hours of electricity each year, it would require approximately 13.6 million acres or 21.25 square kilometers of solar panels to fulfill the country's entire energy demand for a year (Nrel.gov).
60. The sun produces enough energy every second to cover the earth’s needs for 500,000 years (Solarisfreedom).
61. The average American home going solar for a year is equated to growing 122 tree seedlings for 10 years, not burning over 8,000 pounds of coal, and driving about 18,000 miles less (Solarisfreedom).
62. According to the findings of a 36-year-long weather study, solar energy (as well as wind) might fulfill up to 80 percent of America's energy demand. The facts presented above suggest that if the US makes enough effort to improve its storage infrastructure and mechanism, it may more realistically wean itself off fossil fuels in the future. (The Guardian & U.S. Energy Information Administration)
63. Solar panels on all roadways in the continental United States could provide enough clean power to meet 78.2 percent of the country's energy demand. It is one of those odd facts about solar energy that may give environmentally aware Americans optimism, but it is far from realistic. Cost, safety, durability, efficiency, and reliability are a few of the unresolved issues that plague the widespread installation of solar roads in the United States (EnergySage).
64. Because of the "midnight sun," territories north of the Arctic Circle could become solar-energy factories for more than 180 days straight. The Earth's tilt is 23 degrees on its axis, which causes this natural phenomenon. Sure, there would be no sunlight at all during the rest of the year. But one of the most underappreciated solar power and sustainable energy facts out there is that there is enough sunshine throughout much of the year at the North Pole (SeattlePI & High North News).
65. It's been determined that solar panels on your home or business can save you money. According to this report, a solar panel system with 10-kilowatt hours of storage could recoup 80 percent of the cost of a rooftop solar panel system in the United States. PV panels detracting from curb appeal was one of the unspoken facts about solar energy in the real estate sector once. Now, these rooftop electricity-generating devices aid in the sale of listed homes by 20% on average (Modernize & ActiveRain).
66. Hawaii has the greatest proportion of solar-powered homes in the United States, with 6.282 percent. Solar power statistics show that Hawaii is tops on the list of cities with the most number of solar-powered residences in the United States. 1,269 units out of its 20,199 total housing are equipped with solar power installations, accounting for a 6.282% contribution to city generation capacity (PV Magazine).
67. A Polish developer broke new ground by integrating perovskite solar cells into the façade of its business facility, taking a major step forward toward carbon neutrality. This achievement does not receive adequate credit. We'd even go as far as to say it might be the beginning of a tectonic shift in building design and construction methods in order to build zero-energy buildings (Forbes, Building Design & Construction, & Chemistry World).
68. In under a decade, homeowners will break even on their solar panel installation (Investopedia.com).
69. Solar generation (including distribution), which made up 3.3% of overall U.S. generation in 2020, is the fastest-growing energy source (C2es.org).
70. If they could recoup the investment in 5 years, more than half of Americans (52-57%) in America's most coal-reliant areas would be willing to purchase solar panels. (CBSNews)
71. Environment America's "Mayors For Solar Energy" letter has been signed by over 235 mayors representing all 50 states (Environmentamerica.org).
74. Pew Research Center survey commissioned a poll by Survey Sampling International to determine the number of individuals who believe in solar farms. According to the survey, 89 percent of Americans want more solar farms ( Pew Research Center).
UK Solar Panel Statistics
75. Solar energy accounts for just 6.8% of the renewable energy share in electricity generation in the United Kingdom at present, according to provisional data from Ofgem. Despite this fact, solar's percentage has risen during a time when many alternative energies have failed. According to preliminary figures released by Ofgem, solar energy accounted for 35.9 percent of UK energy production in the third quarter of 2021, which was 4 percent lower than it was in 2020 (Ofgem).
76. According to the Solar Energy UK trade organization, the United Kingdom's total solar capacity will reach 14.6 GW in 2021. According to experts, this amount will increase year after year; in 2021 alone, 0.73GW of solar PV capacity will be installed across the UK (Ren21.net).
77. Although it's difficult to determine the precise number of solar panels in the UK, according to a government report released in 2020, there are roughly 970,000 homes with solar panel installations. This implies that just 3.3% of the 29 million residences in the UK are now using solar power - a figure that is expected to rise as solar panels become more accessible in future years (Outdoor Rumors).
78. There are presently only about 500 solar farms in the United Kingdom, which feed clean energy into the electricity grid (Energysavingtrust.org.uk).
79. According to Finder, the United Kingdom would require 29,690 square kilometers of territory in order to house our beloved solar panels. When compared to larger countries, this is quite modest — but because of the UK's tiny size, it would take up 12% of our total landmass (Finder.com).
80. Cornwall has been named the best location for solar in the United Kingdom. Cornwall is home to around 8,070 solar installations, making it one of the most successful areas for renewable energy in the country. With about 15% of renewable energy sites concentrated in Cornwall, we can see that there are a lot sunnier places than here! There are approximately 123,802 renewable energy locations throughout the southwest, with around 15% located in Cornwall (Stelrad.com).
Canadian Solar Panel Statistics
81. After generating only one megawatt of power, a $12 million Canadian concentrated solar power plant was forced to shut down. The Medical Hat government gave up when the facility's unprofitability became too much to bear. Despite the fact that optimistic solar energy targets and other positive facts were ultimately not met, the five-year run of the solar thermal power project wasn't bad (Power Technology).
China Solar Panel Statistics
82. China's success in the solar sector has been remarkable - from 2011 to today, its cumulative installation has increased from 2.5 GW to around 130 GW. It doesn't end there, either. In 2020, China produced almost 70% of the world's solar panels while also generating all of this power domestically (Wikipedia.org).
83. China went from having virtually no solar panels to at least 100% more than any other country in just 25 years. What's more, how imaginatively China has used its solar plants is remarkable. This floating solar farm, for example, is the world's largest floating solar farm and is located near Huainan city in Anhui province. On a lake northwest of Huainan city, this solar farm contains roughly 166,000 gleaming panels (BBC.com).
84. A single panda solar power farm in China, for example, might save the burning of 1.06 million tons of coal and the release of 2.74 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases into the environment over a 25-year period. These compelling solar power facts are further proof that adopting renewable energy as a whole is the most effective approach to prevent the global temperature from rising by 2 degrees Celsius (i.e., avoiding "climate catastrophe") by 2036 or later (Reuters & Scientific American).
85. The world's biggest floating solar farm is in Huainan, China, with 166,000 panels. This enormous facility, which is located on the surface of a lake formed atop an abandoned coal mine, generates enough green energy to power the needs of a medium-sized city (TIME & World Economic Forum).
Japan Solar Panel Statistics
86. In Japan, two of the world's largest solar arrays are located on the water. The Yamakura solar power plant, which floats on the Yamakura Dam and has a capacity of 13.7 MW, is the first. The 7.5 MW Umenoki solar power plant was built on an irrigation pond in Higashimatsuyama and has a capacity of 13.7 MW. This was a creative and resourceful response to the fact that Japan does not have enough terrestrial space to accommodate large solar farms to generate clean electricity due to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, as well as to make up for what it could no longer produce owing to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear catastrophe (NS Energy & Smithsonian magazine).
87. Since 2015, Japan has converted at least three of its forgotten golf courses into solar energy fields. By global standards, Japan's solar energy statistics and facts are to be admired. The Land of the Rising Sun, however, is hampered by an obligation to increase renewable production in order to achieve a more rapid decline in its energy self-sufficiency rate. As a result, it may finally overcome its ongoing power crisis (ReThink Tokyo, Posibl., Investopedia, & The Diplomat).