Amount of Solar Energy Hitting Earth Every Second, Day, Week & Year

Updated: November 13, 2023

Is the amount of solar energy from the sun that hits the earth each day, be enough to power humanity’s energy needs?

Every second, the amount of sunlight that hits the Earth exceeds all of the world’s energy needs for the year by 10 times. If solar energy can be harvested and stored in a cost-effective manner, it is certainly adequate to supply all of humanity’s energy requirements forever.

173 Petawatts (PW) of solar energy hit the earth every second. In an hour that number jumps to 622 Exawatts (EW) of energy and in a day that’s 14.9 Zettawatts of solar energy hit the earth.

These numbers are kinda crazy, so I have added a table below of the scale of watts in order or magnitude so you can get a better grasp of it.

Amount of Solar Energy Hitting Earth infographic

Sun is continuously giving its energy to Earth. And if we can utilize that well, it can literally change the power supply industry of the world. So how much energy strikes the earth?

Scientific notationWatts


The sun sends 173 Peta Watts (PW) of energy to the Earth every second. That’s 173,000,000,000,000,000 watts or 1.73e+17 in scientific notation. According to statistics, in 2019 the entire planet only sied 23.845 Petawatts (PW) of energy, so there is more solar energy hitting the earth every second than we use in 7 years.


Each minute 10.38 Exawatts (EW) of solar energy hit the earth from the sun. That’s 1.038e+19 or 10,380,000,000,000,000,000 watts. The planet’s energy consumption remained the same each year, this amount of power could sustain us for 451 years.


Every hour 622 Exawatts (EW) of energy hits the earth from the sun. This translates to 622,800,000,000,000,000,000 or in scientific notation it would be 6.228e+20.


Every day the sun sends 14.9 Zettawatts of solar power to the earth. That’s a staggering 14,947,200,000,000,000,000,000 Watts (1.49472e+22W) of power that people are harnessing a fraction of through the use of rooftop solar panels.


Every year the watch is hit with 5.4 Yottawatts (YW) of solar energy. The number looks like this 5,455,728,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 5.455728e+24. That’s a wild number and more than enough to sustain all of humanity’s power needs forever.

Scale of watts (Order of Madnitude)

The scale of wattage measurement goes up in steps in orders of magnitude (x1,000) each time a little like money. Below is the scale for power in Watts.

Scale nameAbrvIn Watts of Energy
Megawatt (MW)1,000,000W
Yottawatt (YW)1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000W

Solar energy: interesting facts

  1. The entire yearly energy usage of everyone on the globe is equal to the quantity of possible sunlight that hits the Earth’s surface in one second.
  2. Solar energy is a costless and abundant source of energy. Despite the fact that the sun is 90 million miles away from the planet, light travels here in less than ten minutes.
  3. Solar technology was first adopted by the space sector. The space industry began using solar technologies to provide power aboard spacecraft in the 1950s. The Vanguard 1, the world’s first artificial earth satellite powered by solar cells, is still in orbit, having traveled more than 6 billion miles.
  4. Humans utilized sunlight to spark fires with magnifying glasses as early as the 7th century B.C., according to the hypothesis. The Greeks and Romans began harnessing solar power with mirrors in the third century B.C. to light their torches for religious events. Later around 20 A.D., Chinese culture documented the usage of mirrors to light their torches.
  5. Alexandre Edmond Becquerel invented the photovoltaic effect in 1839, which is the capacity to generate electricity using the sun’s rays. Then, in 1941, Russell Ohl produced the first solar panel cell, and Bell Laboratories released the first commercial panel in 1954.
  6. There are two types of solar technology: active and passive. Active solar technology includes PV cells and solar heat collectors that harvest solar energy. Building rooms to optimize air circulation and arranging space to make use of natural light are examples of passive technology.

Why should we focus on Solar Energy?

The sun produces plenty of energy to meet the entire world’s energy needs, yet unlike coal and oil, it will never run out. Solar power’s main constraint as a renewable energy source is our capacity to convert sunlight into electric energy in an optimal and cost-effective manner.

Renewable energy is self-renewing, and green energy has a negligible impact on the global carbon footprint. Green energy is renewable in all forms, although some forms of renewable energy are not green. Solar energy is both renewable and environmentally friendly, as the sun will constantly generate energy, and it does not release greenhouse gases such as Co2.

Solar power is an essential source of energy in the transition to clean energy sources because the sun delivers more energy than we’ll ever need.

The increasing demand for renewable energy

As a result, day by day, solar panels are becoming a more and more popular alternative form of energy.

In 2018, solar PV capacity reached 505.5 GW, up slightly more than 100 GW from the previous year (2017), when it was 405 GW. Solar panels are becoming the most cost-effective choice for electricity generation, both in-home and commercial applications, as well as in utility projects.

The global rise of solar panels is being aided by markets all around the world. In 2018, eleven countries added more than 1 GW of new capacity, up from nine in 2017 and seven in 2016. The data back up solar power’s booming story. While most countries still require some sort of support scheme for solar PV, interest in completely competitive systems is rapidly developing.

How solar energy reaches the earth?

Heat energy transferred through radiation is as familiar as, if not more familiar than, daylight. About 93 million miles distant, the Sun is a massive heat reactor. Energy is transmitted from a starting point to the space surrounding it by electromagnetic waves in heat transfer via radiation, which does not involve contact with materials. Other types of heat transfer are unable to provide any of the energy that reaches Earth through space’s vacuum. The Sun’s energy reaches the Earth through radiation, as you can see by standing outside on a beautiful day and letting the sun’s rays warm your face.

Unless its temperature is at absolute zero, at which point its molecules entirely stop moving, everything in your environment is always radiating. A scoop of ice cream, for example, emits heat, but because it is in the infrared section of the spectrum, it isn’t visible as light. Infrared scopes, as you’ve certainly seen in movies or on television, can see it.

Ben McInerney head shotAuthor: Ben McInerney is a renewable energy enthusiast with the goal of helping more Australians understand solar systems to make the best choice before they purchase. Having an accredited solar installer in the family helps give Ben access to the correct information, which allows him to break it down and make it easily understandable to the average homeowner.

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