WTF Fun Fact 13319 – Solar Panel Production

As nations throughout the world work to decrease their carbon footprint and transition to renewable energy, solar panel production has increased significantly in recent years. China is one of the major players in the solar panel business thanks to its extensive production and inexpensive prices. Yet, the U.S. is making efforts to catch up and reclaim its position as a global leader in the manufacture of solar panels.

Dominance in solar panel production

China controls 80% of the global solar panel market and is now able to sell solar panels for far less than businesses in other nations. However, there has been increasing concern about China’s use of forced labor, particularly of the Uyghur population, in the production of their solar panels.

While it’s not clear how many solar panels produced in China use forced labor, given the scale of the industry and the reports of human rights abuses in the region, there have been calls for the solar industry to ensure that their supply chains are free from forced labor and other human rights abuses.

U.S. attempts to corner the solar supply chain

The United States is gradually catching up to China’s solar industry thanks to rules and incentives put in place to encourage domestic production and consumer uptake. For example, the US Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIL) has set aside money for the procurement of raw materials, manufacturing, and utility-level adoption.

Additionally, American businesses are funding emerging technologies that might transform the manufacturing of solar panels so it no longer needs to rely on China for raw materials, such as polysilicon. Thin-film solar panels, for instance, which are being tested by some businesses and could bring down the price of solar panels and increase consumer access to them.

In 2021, the United States installed over 20 gigawatts of solar capacity (bringing the total installed capacity to 142.3 gigawatts), which accounted for 50% of new electricity.

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Source: “Solar Panels Made in USA vs China: What’s Better?” — Go Green Solar

WTF Fun Fact 13142 – Use of Telemedicine in the U.S.

Telemedicine use skyrocketed during the pandemic, and now it seems poised to become a regular part of the healthcare landscape. A CDC report from October 2022 revealed just how much Americans relied on telemedicine in the previous year.

What is telemedicine?

Telemedicine is the use of electronic means (telephones, text messages, voice and video chats, etc.) to deliver healthcare to patients remotely. While it may occasionally involve in-office testing, most of the doctor-patient relationship takes place over a device like a phone or a computer.

During the COVID-19 pandemic State of Emergency, the U.S. expanded legislation to allow more providers to deliver a broader range of care options via telemedicine. Healthcare providers had been relatively limited in what they could do for patients without seeing them in person before this.

A CDC report using 2021 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data to assess the use of telemedicine provided interesting insight into just how many Americans over age 18 took advantage of what it had to offer in the second year of the pandemic.

The rise of telemedicine use

In 2021, 37% of American adults reported using telemedicine in the previous 12 months.

The report also found that the older people were, the more likely they were to use it. On some level, that makes sense since older people are more vulnerable to severe cases of COVID. However, it hasn’t often been the case that technology use increases with age in the past.

Women were also more likely to use telemedicine. 42% of women said they used it in 2021, compared to 31.7% of men. (However, women are more likely to see doctors than men.)

Other statistics

Adults in the U.S. West were the most likely to use telemedicine, and those in the Midwest were the least likely.

Telemedicine use increased with patients’ urbanization level – those living in large metropolitan areas were more likely to use it. This is interesting because the technology was initially used to reach those who lived far from hospitals and clinics. However, during the pandemic, people in urban areas may have been more reluctant to head to hospitals and seek care due to crowded public transportation and waiting rooms.

Those with a GED or higher education level were also more likely to get on the phone or computer to “visit” their doctor. As education levels go up, so does the use of this technology.

And while those with a below-average or average income are equally likely to engage with healthcare providers electronically, its use increases among those with higher incomes.

It appears that if telemedicine is going to be part of the future of medicine, it will be important to ensure a broader range of people have access to it and knowledge about its benefits.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Telemedicine Use Among Adults: United States, 2021” —