How Widespread Is Solar Energy?

The Most Comprehensive DIY Solar Panel GuideQuestion: Solar energy is a tempting alternative to powering my home, but I don’t like trying new things until they have been tried and tested. How widespread is solar energy?

Answer: Solar energy has been in use longer than you may think. The Greeks and Romans designed their homes to face the sun for the heating of water. But by today’s technology standards, the solar revolution had its beginning in the 1860s when the first solar-powered steam engine was built.

Since then it saw a slow rise in usage until the 1950s when Bell Laboratories discovered silicon as a superconductor. After that, solar technology was under a more focused eye. When the 1970s change of oil prices sent the world into a financial panic, that focus narrowed even more.

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Today, solar technology is in the spotlight like never before. Fossil fuels are a diminishing resource and renewable energy is the talk of many towns around the world. But how widespread is the use of solar energy? Believe it or not, most countries around the world use solar panels in one way or another. Thailand’s government gave all of its island-dwelling residents free solar panels for their homes. On the other hand, 1st-world countries like the US, Spain, Portugal and France have entire power plants run by solar power.

Solar panel production growth has averaged 40% since 2000, with more growth predicted for the future. Solar panels can be used to provide power to a few of your appliances, your entire household, or in some cases entire housing communities. Solar freeways are currently being designed that will use solar panels on long strips of road in rural areas to provide power for intersections and interchanges.

Solar water heaters can heat your pool and in 2007 the world’s first solar-powered boat traveled 7,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean using only solar power.

There is no telling how popular solar power will be in the years to come and fortunately many of the small-scale solar panel projects, like converting your home, are DIY-friendly.

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