The Benefits of Going Solar
The decline in supply of easily accessible oil and natural gas and the negative impact our use of fossil fuels is having on our environment has resulted in increased interest in sources of clean and efficient energy. Taking a critical look at renewable energy resources to ensure our collective future has never been more important.
There are various sources of renewable energy that can decrease our reliance on oil and natural gas, but an ever-increasing number of home and business owners are taking advantage of one of those sources – solar power. Since 2008, U.S. installations have grown seventeen-fold from 1.2 gigawatts (GW) to an estimated 30 GW today, enough to power the equivalent of 5.7 million average American homes. Since 2010, the average cost of solar PV panels has dropped more than 60% and the cost of a solar electric system has dropped by about 50%. And, according to SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association), the U.S. solar market grew 76% in 2012.
Why is the solar energy market expanding so rapidly? It is because of the many benefits of this clean and abundant resource. Consider the following advantages:
Solar energy is a renewable energy source. We can’t run out of solar energy for as long as the sun is alive – another 6.5 billion years according to NASA.
The US Department of Energy calculates that the surface of the earth receives 120,000 terawatts of solar radiation (sunlight) – 20,000 times more power than what is needed to supply the entire world.
Solar energy can meet current needs as well as those of future generations.
There are emissions associated with manufacturing, transporting and installing solar energy systems but once installed, solar energy does not cause pollution. This is an important step in fighting climate change and the gradual warming of our planet. The average residential solar system offsets about 100,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide in 20 years – the equivalent of driving a car for 100,000 miles. In addition, because there are no moving parts involved in most applications of solar power, there is no associated noise. Solar is a quiet and clean source of energy.
All countries on Earth can access solar energy. And, solar energy can be stored and shared across the globe, including with those who do not have photovoltaic panels installed but who are tied in to a utility grid that transports electricity throughout a community.
In most locations, homeowners can now “sell” excess electricity, or receive bill credits, during times when they produce more electricity than what they actually consume. One Block Off the Grid is a US solar company that is working with the largest solar providers in fifteen cities across the nation to create a single online destination for solar energy options. According to their data, adding solar panels to your home can bring in monthly savings of well above $100 in many states.
Solar energy can be used for many different purposes. In addition to generating the power to meet the everyday needs of home and business owners, solar energy can be used in remote locations to heat and distill water, cook, power highway signs, run generators and cars, and even power satellites in space.
The majority of today’s solar power systems do not required a lot of maintenance. Residential solar panels usually only require cleaning a couple of times a year. Serious solar manufacturers provide 20- or 25-year warranties (also known as a performance guarantee) with their solar panels. The industry standard guarantees 80% performance after 25 years.
Increase The Value of Your Home or Business
A study conducted by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) concluded that homes with solar panels sell 20% faster and for 17% more money. In addition, U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that the sales price of the average home increased $17,000 with solar panels.