Did you know that, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the amount of sunlight received by the earth in one hour is more than the total energy used to by the entire world for an entire year? In fact, in 2015, solar energy was the fastest-growing energy sector with a 33% rise according to Bloomberg. While environmental advantages are the main drivers in promoting solar energy, solar power doesn’t just benefit the planet, it also benefits homeowners, communities, and the job market. In this post, we’ll take a look at why solar energy is essential for our energy future.
Solar power generation has emerged as one of the most rapidly growing renewable sources of electricity because it has several advantages over other forms of electricity generation:
Solar Energy is Clean
Solar panels are a manufactured product that takes significantly less energy to fabricate than they produce over their lifetime. Additionally, after installation, solar power production generates electricity with a limited impact on the environment as compared to other forms of electricity production. This is because the production of solar energy does not emit carbon into the atmosphere which contributes significantly to global warming and has various negative impacts on the environment including melting solar ice caps, reducing habitats for wildlife, and disturbing weather patterns (such as increased frequency and severity of natural disasters like hurricanes and floods).
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Solar Energy Reduces Our Dependence on Fossil Fuels
Because the production of solar energy doesn’t require fossil fuels, it is less dependent on this limited and expensive natural resource. Although there is variability in the quantity and consistency of sunlight throughout the day (and year), an adequately configured solar system (which more than likely incorporates energy storage) can be designed to be highly reliable.
Solar Energy Improves Grid Security
The sun is nearly limitless and can be accessed anywhere on earth at one time or another. When electricity demand peaks in the summer, solar energy can effectively supplement electricity supply from an electricity transmission grid. Solar can also help restart the grid if it goes down.
Solar Energy Benefits the Economy
The solar industry is growing rapidly and is becoming a significant economic engine. More homes are using solar energy and as such, new jobs are being created to meet this need. In fact, 250,000 people work in the U.S. solar industry today and there are more than 10,000 solar businesses around the country.
Technology in the solar power industry is continuously advancing and improvements are expected to amplify in the future. Innovations can potentially increase the effectiveness of solar panels and double, or even triple, the electrical input of the solar power systems.
Solar Energy May Help Improve Communities
When state laws allow it, some communities create large solar gardens that provide electricity for all the nearby houses. This can reduce installation costs, because it’s easier to install many panels at the same time down on the ground in a vacant lot.
In the Long-Term, Solar is an Affordable Energy Source
Over the past several years, solar costs have fallen drastically. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the cost of an average-size residential solar energy system decreased 55% between 2010 and 2018, from $40,000 to $18,000—and that’s before factoring in incentives like the solar Investment Tax Credit. DOE is also focusing on reducing financing burdens and red tape for American families who choose to go solar
Solar energy is now more affordable and accessible than ever before, and using renewable energy makes a positive impact on the environment. With the effects of climate change worsening, solar energy will play a significant role in our transition to a green energy economy. If you’re interested in learning more about the pros and cons of solar energy, check out our blog post titled “Solar Energy Pros and Cons”.