There's enough solar power hitting the Earth every hour to meet all of humanity's power needs for an entire year.
This means that every lump of coal and every cubic foot of natural gas could be left in the ground if only we could capture one hour's worth of solar energy each year. If we covered the Mojave desert with solar arrays, it would generate more than twice as much electricity as the U.S uses annually. Yep, pure solar.
To give you a little history, the first silicon solar cell was built by Bell Laboratories in 1954. The New York Times proclaimed that it was "the beginning of a new era." In terms of output, in 1977, it cost $77 per watt for a simple solar cell. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research's 2020 Solar Market Insight Report, a solar cell cost now is $0.21 per watt. An entire assembled module is $0.39 per watt.
It's actually incredible and infuriating. It's so much more efficient in its use of our precious resources most people don't even realize how much a single home can be worth to the future of this planet. The space industry was an early adopter of this tech. For me, Space is the future, and if they've been doing it since the 1950s, we are behind!
The Vanguard 1, the first artificial earth satellite powered by solar cells, remains the oldest satellite in orbit with an astounding 6 billion miles logged.