Solar Energy and Environmental Benefits
As the conversation around climate change and environmental consciousness continues to get louder, the implementation of solar energy, among other renewable power sources, moves to the forefront. Solar energy works to mitigate the changing climate and reduce toxic and damaging greenhouse gas emissions in hopes of protecting the earth and its communities for years to come.
6 Reasons Why Solar Energy is the Key to a Better Future
Solar energy is one of the most developed forms of renewable power. From major commercial solar farms to personal backyard or rooftop solar panels, this method of renewable energy is one of the most promising options for reducing human impact on the earth. Implementing solar energy is critical in lowering greenhouse gases, bettering air quality, reducing water usage, decreasing nonrenewable energy dependence, and increasing low-cost and abundant energy.
Lowered Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Greenhouse gas is a term given to the emission produced from burning fossil fuels– one of the most common and damaging is carbon dioxide (CO2). Greenhouse gases were named due to their resulting natural phenomenon called the greenhouse effect. Generally, when the sun emits heat, some of it is reflected back into space while the rest remains on earth. This allows for a balance in the amount of warmth. Greenhouse gases, however, absorb the heat from the ground and reflect it back onto itself, trapping the heat and thus raising the earth’s overall temperature.
These gases have been scientifically proven to lead to rising global temperatures resulting in what we know as climate change. Additionally, other forms of pollutants resulting from greenhouse gases, known as nitrogen oxides, are incredibly detrimental to animal and plant life. Ditching traditional forms of energy generation for solar is one way that we can reduce our carbon footprint and decrease the number of greenhouse emissions released into the air. Because solar itself does not emit toxic gases, installing personal solar panels works to power your home without damaging consequences.
Better Air Quality
Aside from warming the earth, greenhouse emissions also contribute to air pollution. These gases release toxic particles into the air known as pollutants. Pollutants make the air dirtier resulting in problems both for the environment and for our health. In fact, polluted air is a primary contributor to a variety of respiratory diseases and discomforts. The electricity produced via solar power reduces the number of greenhouse gases emitted comparatively to other sources of energy generation.
Better air quality means not only less impact on our lungs but also less of an impact on the environment. Fewer greenhouse gases result in less environmental degradation. Additionally, as traditional energy sources are used less and the demand for solar increases, the total amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere will ultimately see long-term downtrends.
Reduced Water Usage
Like various other resources, our earth's usable water is finite. Aside from drinking, we use water in nearly every single industry on the planet, from food production to manufacturing. Because of its widespread use, water conservation is becoming more and more critical. Some areas of the world are already dealing with severe water shortages and droughts.
Unlike solar, other forms of renewable energy, like nuclear or hydropower, use water as their primary driver. These renewable energy sources need quite a bit of water to generate their electricity. They are often aided by dams to control the flow of water and energy production. Dams have long been known to impact the local ecosystems around them, as stopping or changing the natural water flow can significantly impact the species that live in and around the area. While opting for renewable energy is better than not, solar energy offers more electricity with less reliance on natural resources like water.
Before the invention of solar energy, most homes operated off a power distribution grid. A power grid is a shared source of electricity often used by a large group of people in a specific area. Generally, they are set up near or in urban areas and are made up of high-voltage power lines and overhead transmission lines that carry electricity to homes and businesses. However, because large sums of energy cannot be safely stored, these power distribution grids must operate based on the power demand. This means they must respond rapidly in periods of peak electrical need.
While energy grids are efficient in producing mass amounts of electricity, they are vulnerable to weather events and overuse. Some places even require their residents to go through “blackout” periods to allow the grid to reload and not over-surge. Implementing personal solar panels is an excellent step toward an energy-independent home and relying less on shared energy reservoirs. Additionally, solar energy can help fill the gaps when other sources of electricity falter.
Making the switch to solar energy can significantly impact your long-term energy finances in a positive way. While the upfront cost of purchasing and implementing solar panels can be considerable, the return on investment makes the price tag worthwhile. Solar energy not only produces a large volume of electricity throughout the day but allows you to supplement your energy use resulting in major cost savings. Some reports show that switching to solar power can save homeowners between $20,000 and $75,000 on electricity over their entire lifetime.
Some states even offer incentives for switching to solar power and contributing to a community energy bank. Even if your state doesn’t provide local incentives, the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (Solar ITC) is available to any citizen of the United States who pays federal taxes. With this tax credit, you can claim a portion of your solar costs on your tax return, resulting in a reduction in what you owe that tax cycle. Aside from tax credits, other solar incentives include rebates, low-interest loans, property tax relief, performance-based incentives (PBIs), and solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs).
Reduction in Personal Carbon Footprint
Personal responsibility toward sustainability has become a priority for a lot of people. As we experience the consequences of climate change, including warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, and drastic weather events, more and more people feel a personal duty to do what they can to help mitigate the consequences. Implementing solar power into your daily life is just one way you can lower your personal carbon footprint. Not only can you generate your own power, but as solar energy storage continues to develop, you can use this energy to power your device, home appliances and even charge your electric car.
Aside from choosing solar power, there are other ways of reducing your electrical use and personal footprint. These include using the sun as a natural light source during the day, turning off lights as you leave a room, and unplugging appliances that you don’t use very often or even just when they are not being used.
Making small changes toward a more environmentally conscious way of living is key to reducing your personal carbon footprint and working to help mitigate the consequences of climate change. So there is no better time to make your switch to solar than today and help to create a healthier and more sustainable future for generations to come. Contact a SolarUnion expert to see what solar can mean for you.