Did you know that solar energy production today creates more jobs than fossil fuel energy? Some people are skeptical that renewable energy sources can power our highly developed societies, but renewables are already playing a major role in some parts of the world. Iceland, for example, is generating 100% of its electricity from sustainable sources. Read on for five fascinating facts about sustainable energy!


1. Only 1% of the Sunlight that Hits Earth is Harvested by Solar Panels

Scientists are currently researching methods to increase this number to over 10%. One possible way is through artificial photosynthesis, which involves converting sunlight into hydrocarbon fuels. With the advancement in this field, solar energy could one day supply all of our energy needs. When will this be a reality? No one can say for sure, but the race to develop artificial photosynthesis is on! Land Art Generator Initiative, California Institute of Technology, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are just some organizations working on this project.


2. Solar Energy is Considered Clean Energy

Solar panels do not produce greenhouse gasses. Many people believe renewable energy sources should be defined as those that do not produce any greenhouse gasses, even though solar panels create some carbon dioxide and other pollutants. However, the amount of these pollutants is minute compared to fossil fuel energy and other natural processes that release pollution into the environment. When you consider the entire life cycle of solar panels – from manufacturing to installation to operation – they are still considered a clean energy source.


3. The World’s First Commercial Solar Thermal Plant was Built in 1904 in Tuscany, Italy

In the early 1900s, solar thermal energy was used to power industrial plants. The world’s first commercial solar thermal plant was built in 1904 in Tuscany, Italy. This plant used mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto a central tower where water was heated to produce steam. The steam was then used to power a turbine. Solar thermal plants of this type are still operating today, though they have become much more efficient over the years. Italy is home to the world’s largest solar thermal plant, built in 2013.


4. Solar Panels are Made of Silicon, a very Common Element on Earth

Solar panels are made of silicon, the second most abundant element on Earth after oxygen. Silicon is found in sand and rocks and is used to make computer chips, glass, and concrete. Solar panels have many silicon cells that convert sunlight into electricity. The more cells there are in a panel, the more electricity it can produce.


5. Sustainable Energy is not just for Developed Countries

In many developing countries, sustainable energy is the only type of energy available. People in these countries often live in remote areas without access to the grid. Solar panels and wind turbines are often used to generate electricity in these areas. Sustainable energy is also used to power water pumps and cell phone towers. In some cases, sustainable energy is the only way to bring electricity to rural areas.


These are just a few of the interesting facts about sustainable energy. As more and more countries focus on reducing their carbon footprints, sustainable energy will become increasingly important. What other sustainable energy facts do you know? Please share them with us in the comments!