James Elston

James Elston

Published June 5, 2024

Did you know that approximately 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strike the Earth continuously? This makes solar energy the most abundant energy source available to us; however, only a fraction of its potential is ever harnessed.

Over the past decade or so, solar panel technology has progressed in leaps and bounds. Not only do solar panels provide the opportunity to reduce your electricity bills, but they are highly durable and require very little maintenance.

In this article, we will provide you with 12 interesting solar energy facts so you can learn more about this fascinating, renewable power source.

Fact 1: Solar Panels Provide a Clean and Renewable Energy Source

Most traditional energy sources rely on fossil fuels like oil and natural gas, but solar power relies on sunlight. Fortunately, there is a limitless supply of sunlight for the next 5 billion years, so there is no need to worry about solar energy ever diminishing.

Solar energy is often described as a ‘clean energy source’ as it doesn’t produce any greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, the process of manufacturing solar panels does have an environmental impact, as it requires a variety of natural resources. However, the impact is still minimal when compared to traditional energy sources.

Fact 2: Over 1 Million Properties in the UK Use Solar Power

Did you know that over 1 million properties in the UK have installed solar panels? Even though the UK does not have the sunniest weather, the sun’s energy still provides massive potential for electricity generation.

In 2023, record numbers of households converted to renewable energy, with approximately 17,000 property owners investing in solar power generation each month. These numbers are only expected to rise as solar panels become more accessible to the general public.

Fact 3: The First Solar Cell Was Developed in the 19th Century

The concept of harnessing solar energy is not new. In fact, Charles Fritts created the very first solar array in 1884! Unfortunately, these solar cells were less than 1% efficient, so the invention was not at all practical. However, the idea of harnessing solar energy caught the attention of other international scientists.

The very first modern solar panel was developed at Bell Labs back in 1954. This was the first time that solar energy became commercially viable and many private companies began manufacturing solar tiles, solar panels, and other solar equipment.

Fact 4: The Materials Used to Manufacture Solar Panels are Abundant

Silicon is the main material used in the production of most PV solar panel modules. Fortunately, silicon is the second-most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. Of course, solar panel production requires other materials, such as glass and aluminium, but these are also abundant resources.

Certain types of solar panels may require other materials, such as cadmium telluride. While cadmium is a plentiful substance, tellurium is quite rare.

Fact 5: There Are Many Different Types of Solar Panels

There are quite a few different types of solar panels, with the most popular being monocrystalline panels. Some of the other types include:

  • Polycrystalline panels
  • Thin film solar panels
  • Amorphous silicon solar cells
  • Concentrated PV cells
  • Cadmium telluride solar cells
  • Biohybrid solar panels
  • Perovskite solar panels
  • Zombie solar panels

Many of the abovementioned types of solar panels are still in the prototype stage and are not yet commercially available. If you are looking to install solar panels for your property, the best option is usually monocrystalline panels.

Fact 6: Initial Installation Costs Are Expensive

The average solar panel system (3.5-4 kW) typically costs between £5,000 and £13,000. This is a significant amount for the average property owner, but you can still expect to break even in around 10 to 15 years.

The good news is that once you have installed your solar panels, they’ll produce electricity using the sun’s rays, which will reduce your energy bills and your reliance on the electricity grid. While the high cost of installation deters many property owners from making this beneficial investment, it is still worth installing solar panels.

Fact 7: Solar Panels Don’t Need Direct Sunlight to Generate Power

If you live in the UK, you may be worried about the many cloudy days you experience each year when it comes to solar capacity. However, solar panels don’t require direct sunlight to generate electricity.

While shade, rain, and snow can reduce your solar panel system’s overall output, these weather conditions won’t stop your solar panels from generating electricity.

Fact 8: Solar Panels Have Minimal Maintenance Needs

The installation costs of solar panels may be high, but once you have them installed, there is very little to worry about in terms of maintenance. All you need to do is check your solar panels every now and then for any damage and give them a clean.

You can carry out this maintenance on your own, or employ professionals to clean and inspect your panels every couple of months for a minimal fee. Depending on what type of solar panels you invest in, you can expect your system to last for 25 years.

Fact 9: Solar Technology is Always Improving

The solar industry experienced massive growth between 2008 and 2013 when solar panel efficiency began to see drastic improvements. There were also advances in battery storage and applications that helped monitor the amount of usable electricity and which appliances were drawing the most power.

Fact 10: You Don’t Need Planning Permission to Install Solar Panels

In most cases, you won’t need to acquire planning permission to have solar panels installed on your property. Permitted development rights for residential properties are typically quite generous as the UK Government wants to support the solar energy industry.

However, you may need planning permission to install solar panels if you own a flat, listed building, or property located in a conservation area.

Fact 11: Solar Panels Are Modular and Easily Scalable

One of the best things about solar panels is that they are modular and easily scalable. If your electrical energy needs were to increase or if you were to expand your home, you could always add more panels to your solar array.

This is also great for those who can only afford a small setup to begin with as you can rely on solar panels and the electrical grid for electricity until you can upgrade your system.

Fact 12: Solar Farms Are Being Established All Over the World

Solar power plants, also known as solar farms, are being established all over the world in an effort to combat climate change and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The biggest solar farm is located in India and covers over 56 square kilometres!

These innovative solar projects have been met with much success and support, so we can expect to see many more of them in the future.


Can I install solar panels on my own?

It is legal to install your own solar panels in the UK, but it may not be the best idea. If you don’t have any experience with solar panel installation, you could end up damaging the panels or even injuring yourself. This is a job that is best left to the experts at Eco Happy!

In what other ways can I minimise my carbon footprint?

While investing in solar power is an excellent way to minimise your carbon footprint, there are many other ways to become more eco-friendly, including:

  • Use rainwater tanks as a water source.
  • Switch to energy-efficient appliances.
  • Recycle as much of your waste as possible.
  • Only buy as much as you need.

Are solar panels worth it?

Yes, solar panels are definitely worth it in the long run. While the initial cost may feel overwhelming, you will greatly reduce your energy bills and eventually break even. There is also the option to sell any excess energy to the national grid through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme.

What other components do I need for my solar energy system?

In addition to solar panels, you’ll need an inverter and a battery if you want to set up an efficient solar energy system for your property. While each system differs based on your specific needs, you’ll also need mounting racks and a monitoring device.


As the solar industry continues to grow, more and more solar panel options will become available. Solar power applications are expected to diversify as the world begins to lean into sustainable energy production.

If you’re interested in installing solar panels in the UK, don’t hesitate to contact the expert team at Eco Happy today.

James Elston

James Elston

Boiler Expert

James Elston is the top boiler replacement and heating expert at Eco Happy. He has over 20 years of experience in the industry, focusing on Gas Safe boiler installations and offering home-heating and energy-saving solutions to homeowners across the UK. From sourcing the most energy-efficient combi boiler to providing specialist heating advice, James ensures that Eco Happy maintains the highest standards and best customer service.

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