Wind and solar power statistics, facts, and trivia

It’s hip, it’s cool, it’s trendy…and it’s green. PV solar systems and wind power are increasingly becoming topics of conversation as the world shifts from filthy coal, oil and other fossil fuels, to the clean and renewable energy provided by the wind and the sun.
Here’s some fascinating statistics, facts and trivia about these power sources – be the center of attention, amaze your friends and influence people with your renewable energy knowledge!

It would take only around 0.3 per cent of the world’s land area to supply all of our electricity needs via solar power.

The area of roof space available in Australia is enough to provide all of the nation’s electricity, using solar panels.

Weight for weight, advanced silicon based solar cells generate the same amount of electricity over their lifetime as nuclear fuel rods, without the hazardous waste. All the components in a solar panel can be recycled, whereas nuclear waste remains a threat for thousands of years.

Solar and wind power systems have 100 times better lifetime energy yield than either nuclear or fossil energy system per tonne of mined materials

The amount of energy that goes into creating solar panels is paid back through clean electricity production within anywhere from 1.5 – 4 years, depending on where they are used. This compares with a serviceable life of decades.

The theoretical limit for silicon based solar cells is 29% conversion efficiency. Currently, polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels generally available have efficiencies anywhere from 12% to 18%. With the addition of solar concentrators, The efficiency of photovoltaics is eventually likely to rise above 60 per cent.

The Earth receives more energy from the sun in an hour than is used in the entire world in one year
Wind is a form of solar power, created by the uneven heating of the Earth’s surface.

At the end of 2007, worldwide capacity of wind turbines in operation was just over 94 gigawatts

Solar radiation and related energy resources including wind and wave power, hydro and biomass make up 99.97% of the available renewable energy on Earth

By the end of 2007, the total installed capacity of solar hot water systems globally was approximately 154 gigawatts

The first solar cell was constructed by Charles Fritts in the 1880s

The world’s largest wind turbine is currently the Enercon E-126 with a rotor diameter of 126 meters. The E-126 produces 6 megawatts, enough to power approximately 5,000 European households.

In 2008, Europe leads the world in development of offshore wind power.

Germany has nearly half the world’s installed solar cell capacity, thanks to a generous feed in tariff program. In 2006, the country installed 100,000 new solar power systems

Global annual photovoltaic installations increased from just 21 megawatts in 1985, to 2,826 megawatts in 2007

Solar energy prices have decreased 4% per annum on average over the past 15 years

In 2007, wind power made up 40 percent of new generating capacity installations in Europe and 35 percent in the USA.

Manufacturing solar cells produces 90% less pollutants than conventional fossil fuel technologies

The solar industry creates 200 to 400 jobs in research, development, manufacturing and installation for every 10 megawatts of solar power generated annually.

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