Comprehensive Guide to All the Solar Energy Facts


Ignatius Uirab

Money Savings Advice Solar energy facts

Today, in the UK alone, there are more than 800,000 homes with solar panels. Using solar energy can cut household bills by up to 50%. Solar energy is renewable and clean, making a big difference to our planet.

Only over the past 20 years have we really started to harness the sun and use its rays to power our homes. Solar power has been around since the dawn of time, and it’s certainly true that solar panels have been around longer than the last two decades, but it’s only really in recent years that they’ve moved from solar farms to our rooftops.

Read on to find answers to your solar energy questions, so you can learn more about solar power.

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When Did We Start Collecting Solar Energy?

The first photovoltaic (solar) cell was produced in 1839. French scientist Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel discovered that he could convert the sun’s rays into energy. It wasn’t until 1954 that the first full solar panel was produced, with enough cells to electrical power equipment. Since then, solar technology has continually been developed.

Today, solar panels are relatively affordable. That wasn’t always the case. In fact, the price of solar panels has dropped by 99% since the late 1970s.

When Was the First Solar Farm Built?

Solar farms are plots of land, set aside specifically for solar energy. You’ll find rows of large solar panels; all angled to face the sun for most of the day. Some solar panels will move throughout the day, so they’re constantly facing the sun.

Solar farms can be used to provide renewable power to many homes. They’re also known as photovoltaic power stations or solar parks. The first solar park was built in California in 1982. A larger one followed two years later, in the same state.

Is Solar Energy Clean?

Solar energy is clean and renewable, though there are steps to go through before you reach this Earth-friendly point. The production and installation of solar panels can go hand in hand with the production and release of greenhouse gases. The equipment itself is made from materials that will be stuck on the planet forever, often including large batteries for storage of energy.

Once the solar panels are in place, they’ll do their job without further damage. Solar energy isn’t perfect, but it’s far better than a vast majority of other types of energy production.

Solar panels don’t require a lot of maintenance. Once they’re in place, they’ll simply keep doing their thing. At most, they should need cleaning once or twice a year to keep them efficient.

Is Solar Energy Becoming More Popular?

As a free, renewable, sustainable and non-polluting source of power, solar energy is considered to be one of the energy sources of the future. It’s likely that our homes will be powered not by burning fossil fuels but by solar, wind and wave energy.

Solar, wind and wave energy won’t run out whilst planet Earth exists. These natural processes can be harnessed to power homes for centuries to come.

How Many UK Homes Have Solar Panels?

More than 800,000 UK homes have solar panels on the roof. There are roughly 29 million homes in the UK, so this is still just a small proportion.

How Much Money Could the Average Homeowner Save With Solar Energy?

With their own solar panels, a homeowner would be likely to save up to £220 per year. Most save more than £85.

Depending on how much energy you’re generating, you might be able to sell the excess back to the National Grid as a way of making more money from your solar panels. The government created new laws in 2019 that guarantees you the right to sell your extra energy at a reasonable tariff, so if you’ve got enough roof space for large panels and you generate more than you need, you might be able to profit.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

Getting started with solar energy requires a significant investment. Today, installing solar panels will cost around £6,000 for the average UK household. You might be able to take out a Green Deal loan to help pay for your solar panels, but you’d need to decide whether this made sense considering you’d be repaying the loan with interest.

Solar panel for homes used to be much more expensive. Even ten years ago, you could expect to pay upwards of £20,000 for solar panels. There were grants to help with the costs, though uptake was still, understandably, low.

Do Solar Panels Stop Working When It’s Overcast?

Solar panels still work when there are many clouds in the sky. They’ll simply be far less effective. On a hot and sunny day, solar panels will collect a lot more solar energy. On cloudy days, they’ll do a less efficient job. To maximise the potential of any solar panel, it must be carefully positioned.

It should be angled at around 40° and should also be south facing. It’s important to make sure that shadows aren’t cast on the solar panel for too long. Large trees and other buildings can reduce solar panel efficiency.

Many homeowners are choosing to add solar plus batteries to their homes. These can store energy that isn’t used straight away so that it’s ready when the weather gets worse and the solar panels aren’t producing much more.

Does Solar Power Work Small Scale?

You can buy small solar power packs to use with your handheld devices. Solar phone chargers are increasingly popular with people that go camping or spend a lot of time outdoors.

Solar cells can also be built into small electronics. It’s likely that, at some point, you’ve used a calculator that runs on solar energy.

Can Solar Panels Be Used to Meet Short-Term Requirements?

One of the best things about a solar panel is that it’s so easy to set up, take down and move. This means that the world’s solar farms can increase their capacity quickly.

It also means that solar energy is great for temporary projects, like powering equipment at a weekend festival or a one-off event.

Since setting up a solar panel is so quick and easy, they’ve also been used for disaster relief after floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and fires. It would take many years to get a fossil fuel power station up and running, but you can start bringing power back to damaged places in just a few days with solar panels.

How Long Will Solar Panels Last?

Properly maintained, a solar panel has a lifespan of approximately 50 years. This means that once they’re installed on your roof, your solar panels at home should see you through most of your life. When solar panels do need replacing, it’s likely that solar technology will have moved on quite a bit. Your next solar panels could be so much more efficient, and even cheaper to install.

In some parts of the world, the number of solar panels in use is almost doubling each year. It’s easy to see why when solar energy can be good for the planet and your bank balance.

More About Solar Energy

Our online guides can help you to discover more about solar energy. Read about the advantages and disadvantages of solar power, as well as how to get solar panel grants if you’d like to install your own at home.

How Can Money Savings Advice Help You With Solar Energy?

Here at Money Savings Advice, we have partnered with some of the UK’s leading Solar Energy companies. They have already helped thousands of people get the best Solar Panels & Solar Energy solutions for their homes and they can do the same for you.

Choosing an independent Solar management company means they won’t proceed with a scheme unless they are sure it is in your best interests. They are also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.

If you would like to speak to one of these Solar Energy companies who can help you, then click on the below and answer the very simple questions.


Ignatius Uirab

Ignatius is one of our leading financial specialists. With over eight years of financial experience, he has vast experience and knowledge of the financial sector. When he is not writing about how to make your money go further, he is a true family man.

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