Thanks to President Jimmy Carter, the small, rural town of Plains, Georgia, just reached quite the benchmark: It now gets 50% of its energy from solar power.

Sure, it's a very small town — "We have about 215 households, 700 or so people, in Plains," resident Jill Stuckey told the Associated Press — but it's still an impressive feat.

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We all know the feeling. Looking at your energy bill can be a lot like this:

How the heck did I use $30,000 worth of electricity? Was it all my Tesla coils? Photo from iStock.

Electricity is expensive. Renewable energy could help, but the technology has its hurdles to overcome, including cost, availability, and infrastructure.

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"How does solar energy work when there's no sun?" has been a question for pretty much about as long as solar energy has been a thing.

Of course people wouldn't want solar panels on their houses if installing them meant that, come sunset, the movie they were watching suddenly shut off, forcing them to read by candlelight like colonial settlers. Making solar power a viable option, even when the sun sets or disappears behind some clouds, was one of the first things scientists and engineers had to figure out.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

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