Homeowners all over the world are turning to solar to power their home and lower their energy bills. In fact in 2021, the U.S. alone installed 5.4 gigawatts of solar PV capacity in Q3 2021 to reach 113.5 GWdc of total installed capacity. This was enough to power 21.8 million American homes!
This means that homeowners aren’t the only ones who can use the sun to power their lights. Solar energy has seen major growth in the last decade, and a market share of solar and wind in global electricity generation grew at a compound average annual growth rate of 15% from 2015-2020.
Therefore, more and more people are powering their homes, businesses, cities, and some of the most famous landmarks are getting a solar makeover. Let’s take a look at 8 of the most famous landmarks in countries all over the world that are using solar energy to keep them powered.
What famous buildings are powered by solar energy?
- China: Sun-Moon Mansion
- U.S.: Yellowstone National Park
- France: Eiffel Tower
- Taiwan: National Stadium
- United Arab Emirates: Burj Khalifa
- U.S.: Alcatraz Island
- Italy: the Vatican
- U.S: White House
Sun-Moon Mansion: China
China really took the whole sun-powered building thing literally. In fact, they designed an office building in Dezhou to look like a giant sundial. Here’s a few facts about how this solar-powered office building made the list.
- While it’s not a famous landmark per se, this 807,000 sq ft office building has become a renewable energy building landmark, unveiled in 2009, and is also named the world’s largest office building.
- Designed to reduce energy consumption around 30% below national average by local architect Huang Ming, also known as the “Sun King” or “Solar Energy Mad Man”. Watch the video below for more on Huang Ming and Dezhou (Solar Valley) China.
- Covered in more than 5,000 square meters of solar panels and 30 types of green building technologies.
- Powered by 95% renewable energy, including solar, as well as energy-saving innovations like insulation to help cut energy consumption.
- Located in “Solar Valley” in China, an area that is more than 98% solar powered.
Yellowstone National Park: United States
Yellowstone National Park is already very green, known for national wonders like Old Faithful, hot springs, and plenty of wild animals. But did you know- the world’s first national park has its very own solar system! It also stays green by using many other forms of renewable energy to help it stay powered. Let’s take a look at how Yellowstone National Park uses renewable energy.
- Yellowstone National Park currently uses around 56% renewable energy to power their lighting, appliances, computers, tools and some heating and cooling.
- This renewable energy mix includes: 37% hydro energy, 18% wind energy and around 1% solar energy.
- In 2011 the Bechler Ranger Station got its very own solar system to keep its essential functions powered.
- In addition, they use a mobile 18 kilowatt solar power system that is made up of 32 solar panels (280 watts), 2,500 amp hours of battery storage, an 183-amp charge controller, and three solar power inverters.
Eiffel Tower: France
In 2013, the world’s iconic romantic landmark in Paris, France turned on renewable energy to power its spectacular lights and essential functions. The Eiffel Tower first made history when it opened to the public in 1189 as an architectural wonder, and now is making history as a world landmark powered by renewable energy.
- The Eiffel Tower is outfitted with solar panels, LED lights, high performance heat pumps, and rainwater collection systems, all of which help keep the landmark sustainable and powered with renewable energy.
- In 2021, the stunning display of illuminations on the Eiffel Tower were powered with renewable energy for the first time. Check out the video below for more on this.
- The most efficient feature is the spinning turbines that function to capture wind from any direction and help to maximize energy production.
- Solar panel energy alone heats half of the hot water used in the Eiffel tower.
National Stadium: Taiwan
The National Stadium in Kaohsiung, Taiwan is probably the most stunning display of solar panels on a building. Designed by the world-famous Japanese architect Toyo Ito, the National Stadium opened to host the 2009 World Games. Let’s take a look at a few interesting facts about this stadium’s solar energy use.
- The stadium is 100% solar powered!
- This solar power is used to light up 3,300 lights and two jumbo screens, and even light up the surrounding neighborhood.
- The stadium’s roof was designed to look like a spiraling serpent, covered artistically by 8,844 solar panels.
- The raw materials used for the building construction are 100% recycled.
- This solar system was built with efficiency in mind. It takes only six minutes to power up the stadium’s entire lighting system.
- The roof also collects rainwater that is sterilized and then redistributed for the stadium’s needs.
Burj Khalifa: United Arab Emirates
The Burj Khalifa is the tallest skyscraper in the world, rising 2,717 feet above the earth (around a half mile). This building, located in Dubai, has set several world records for height and is a multi-use building that hosts a hotel, residential apartments, office spaces, restaurants and nightclubs, and a main observation deck tourist attraction. Let’s see how the Burj Khalifa uses solar energy to provide power to their tenants.
- The tower has a total of 378 solar panels.
- Solar power is used to save the building up to 3,200 kilowatts of energy each day.
- In approximately 7 hours of sunshine, the solar panels can heat 140,000 liters of water used by tenants each day.
- In addition, the condensation from the building’s air-conditioning equipment is reclaimed to cool the building’s potable water, as well as used for the tower’s landscaping.
Alcatraz Prison: United States
Alcatraz Prison, aka “The Rock”, the famous landmark on Alcatraz Island off San Francisco, California has its very own solar panel system. In fact, it is also one of the nation’s largest microgrids. Here is how Alcatraz Island stays powered with solar energy.
- In 2012, the island got its very own solar system, a 305 kW system that sits on the roof of the main prison building.
- The solar system consists of 959 solar panels, 8 power inverters, 480 batteries, and 2 diesel generators.
- Prior to 2012, the island was powered from only the diesel generators, and was extremely unstable.
- After the solar system was installed, the island’s fuel consumption was reduced by 45%.
The Vatican City: Italy
Even the Vatican City uses solar energy to power the world’s smallest country. This independent city-state located inside Rome is governed by the Holy See. It also mints its own euros, has its own flag and anthem, and now has its own solar panel system. Here is how the Vatican City uses solar energy as a method to reduce its carbon footprint on the world.
- Starting in 2008, a total of 2,400 solar panels were installed on the Paul VI Audience Hall, one of the Vatican’s main buildings.
- The panels provide around 300,000 kilowatt-hours of energy. This is enough to illuminate, heat and cool the building each year!
- This solar system reduces their carbon footprint by avoiding around 210 tons of carbon dioxide (about 70 tons of oil).
- The solar panels were gifted to German-born Pope Benedict XVI by a German solar company, worth around $1.5 million.
- This solar system, among other green efforts, are part of the Vatican’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The White House: United States
The White House in Washington DC is no stranger to the benefits of solar energy. In fact, that’s why they offer the Federal Solar Tax Credit for homeowners. The White House also got their own set of solar panels back in 2014 when President Barack Obama had them installed. Here are some interesting facts about the use of solar energy in the White House.
- The first time the White House made use of solar energy was in 1979 when President Jimmy Carter had 32 solar panels installed.
- In 1986 President Ronald Reagan had the solar panels removed and half of them were moved to the roof of Maine College.
- The White House remained solar energy free until 2014 when President Barack Obama had a new system of 167 panels installed.
- The PV system on the white house is expected to create 19,700 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year.
- This PV system is also made up of entirely American-made parts! Watch the video below for more information about the White House solar panels from the White House History website.
From Solar Powered Landmarks to Solar Powered Homes
Take an example from these famous landmarks and experience the power of the sun for your own home! Just talk with one of our Solar Energy Specialists about your options and see a customized solar system for your home energy goals. Wondering what your first visit with a Solar Energy Specialist will be like? Check out this blog and when you’re ready to make the decision about cleaner energy for your home, we’re waiting to answer all your questions.