Since 1975

The ECT Centre of Technology

Accredited Professional Body for Education
Engineering - Management - Finance

Solar Energy: 6 things you may not know about this fast-growing industry

1. SOLAR ENERGY HAS ANCIENT ROOTS 

People have been harnessing Solar energy for more than 2700 years! Fire was made by magnifying the sun’s rays through glass lenses as early as 700BC.

2. SOLAR ENERGY HAS HUGE POTENTIAL

Enough sunlight falls on the earth every hour to meet the world’s energy demand for a whole year (if it was effectively captured and stored) and if we add the amount of solar energy that is absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, land, and oceans, we would end up with approximately 3,850,000 exajoules (EJ) each year – that is A LOT of energy! To put this in to perspective, this is equivalent to:

– 2.7 million earthquakes of the same size as the Tohoku earthquake in Japan (2011)
– 40,000 times more than the total energy consumption in the United States.
8,000 times more than the total energy consumption in the whole world.

3. CHINA IS CURRENTLY THE GLOBAL SOLAR LEADER…

The country currently leading in terms of numbers of solar installations is China, however the largest solar power plant in the world is located in the Mojave Desert in California, and covers 1000 acres!

4. …BUT SOLAR IS A RAPIDLY EXPANDING INDUSTRY, WITH OPPORTUNITIES WORLDWIDE

– In the USA  the solar energy industry added more jobs in 2015 than the US oil & gas extraction & pipeline industries combined, and grew 12 times faster than the US economy as a whole! The solar industry is projected to grow by 20-40% per year for the next 10 years.

– In the UK more than 1,000,000 households have solar PV panels on their roofs: the 1st was installed by Professor Roaf, a contributor to the ECT’s Energy Learning Journal!

– Least Developed Countries (LDC’s) have the greatest potential for solar energy use: many of these countries have an abundance of sunlight, and a large proportion of their population without electricity.

5. SOLAR ENERGY IS BECOMING MORE AFFORDABLE 

The average cost of a solar panel in 1977 was $76.67/watt, while in 2013 this was just $0.698/watt – which in simple terms means that solar panels are now about 100 times cheaper than they were 35 years ago. This is making the cost of generating electricity from solar comparable with fossil fuels in locations around the world.

6. SOLAR ENERGY IS BEING ADOPTED FOR ADVANCED TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGHS, SUCH AS POWERING SUSTAINABLE AEROPLANES

– NASA has been working on a series of solar powered unmanned aircraft since the 1980’s.  Pathfinder, Pathfinder Plus and Helios Prototype, is the result of NASA’s efforts to use solar power for long duration high altitude flights. The Helios Prototype reached a record altitude of 96 863 feet in late 2001, which is the highest altitude reached by an aircraft that is not powered by rockets for sustained horizontal flight.

– Moreover, this year records were broken when the Swiss plane Solar Impulse 2 came back to Switzerland after finishing its round-the-world flight. The plane covered more than 40,000 km (24,800 miles) in 16 months, becoming the first solar-powered aircraft to fly around the planet without the use of fuel.

The ECT runs courses in Engineering, Management and Finance across the UK, in Manchester, London
The ECT runs courses in Engineering, Management and Finance across the UK, in Manchester, Edinburgh
The ECT runs courses in Engineering, Management and Finance across the UK, in Manchester, London
The ECT runs courses in Engineering, Management and Finance across the UK, in Manchester, London
The ECT runs courses in Engineering, Management and Finance across the UK, in Manchester, London

Gaining a Solar Qualification can help to make the most of the major opportunities that the Solar Energy industry offers. The intensive 2-day Solar Photovoltaic Course provides the Exams for the industry-recognised Solar Qualification, which will demonstrate proficiency in the industry and develop skills in Solar Photovoltaic technology.

The upcoming accredited Solar Photovoltaic Course is run by the ECT in collaboration with leading universities, specialist lecturers and the awarding body SQA. A Qualification in Solar PV is advantageous to participants from diverse fields, with previous editions of the training welcoming individuals from the areas of solar installation, consulting, engineering, management, architecture, marketing, and many more.

If you would like to learn more about this exciting industry, please visit: http://theECT.org/solar-photovoltaic/