It is really important for all people to learn a few standard facts about solar energy to ensure that they can really appreciate the full potential and different uses of this abundant energy supply. Solar energy is certainly the most environmentally friendly and most desirable of all alternative energy resources. Currently, the annual worldwide energy consumption is around 550 exajoules (523 Quadrillion BTUs) per year. Each year, the Earth's atmosphere, oceans and land masses receive approximately 3,850,000 exajoules of energy from the sun's rays. Once this is taken into account, everyone should be able to begin to understand exactly why the solar energy industry is eagerly working to improve processes to harness solar energy. The Desertec Foundation theorizes that only 1% of desert environments around the world with solar panels could very well turn on the entire planet.

Below is a brief background of historical facts about solar energy:

- humanity's use of solar energy is not new; countless ancient civilizations have used it in one form or another.

- Leonardo da Vinci was actually among the 1st modern thinkers who thought industrial use of solar energy for heating water.

The French scientist Edmond Becquerel observed the photovoltaic effect while experimenting with electrolytic cells in 1839.

- In 1894, Clarence Kemp, an inventor, filed for a patent on the design of the world's 1st solar - powered water heater.

- The world's first solar thermal power plant was built by Frank Shuman in 1913. The station, located in Egypt, used parabolic valley - shaped mirrors to heat water in boilers to run a 65 horsepower engine. The engine pumped nearly 6,000 gallons of water every minute from the Nile to adjacent crops.

- The first modern solar cell (PV) solar cell was designed at Bell Laboratories in the year 1954.

The following are a number of more technical facts about solar energy:

- Solar units are one of two types, active and passive. Active units for solar energy use solar cells, and passive units are thermal.

- Solar cell systems are currently the most common energy transformation devices that use solar cells in modules to turn light directly into electrical energy.

- Thermally based solar energy systems sometimes use molten salts to keep solar energy at very high temperature due to their high specific heat energy qualities.

- The International Energy Agency (IEA) has predicted that by 2060, around 20% of the world's energy needs will be created using solar technologies such as photovoltaic systems, water heaters and solar energy.

The Nokia 1610 plus was actually the first commercial solar powered mobile phone introduced by the Finnish manufacturer in 1997.

The following is a list of important solar installations around the globe:

- Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS) is a collection of 9 power plants located in the Mojave Desert in California. SEGS maintains the classification of being the world's largest solar power plant with a total production capacity of approx. 354 megawatts.

- In most cases, photovoltaic systems use solar cells for electricity production, simply because they are currently much more cost-effective when used on a large scale. The planet's largest photovoltaic power plant is located in Sarnia, Canada, which provides a production capacity of 97 megawatts.

- The Andasol plant in Spain with an electrical power of 250 megawatts is the second largest solar cell plant in the world.

- The world's largest Scheffler reflector system in Rajasthan, India is capable of cooking up to 35,000 meals a day.

- The world's largest thin film solar cell plant "Waldpolenz Solar Park" is located in Germany.

- Topaz Solar Farm, a 550 megawatt solar cell plant currently under construction, will be among the largest plants after completion.

Facts about solar energy about solar-powered aircraft:

- The Astro Flight - Sunrise, an unmanned aerial vehicle developed in 1975, was the first solar-powered aircraft.

- Gossamer Penguin, created in 1980, was the first aircraft powered only by solar cells capable of carrying a person.

- Helios, an unmanned aerial vehicle operated in part by photovoltaic systems, maintains the record for reaching the highest altitude of 96,863 ft as well as a world record for sustained horizontal flight with a wing aircraft.

Author's Bio: 

Solar energy, a renewable energy source, is one of the most available sources on earth. However, as it is an intermittent energy source, it needs to be improved upon storage or another energy source.