Today’s climate- and energy-conscious property owners are interested in turning toward green solutions to power their buildings. The science points toward a worsening in global climate change and investing in high-quality products with a small environmental footprint can help the planet in a measurable way.
Rusty Tweed, examines the environmental impact of solar energy in 2020.
Benefits of Solar Energy
The sun provides an invaluable resource for generating clean, sustainable electricity without producing toxic pollution or emissions that can worsen global warming. The benefits of solar energy generally outweigh the costs of installing a power-gathering system.
1. Reduces Air Pollution
Fossil fuels create a large amount of air pollution. When traveling to congested areas where there are many mountains and valleys, such as Los Angeles, it is easy to see environmental pollution. Smog is only one of the environmental problems that could be eliminated if solar power were more widely used.
2. Reduce Water Usage
Hydroelectric and nuclear energy systems use a great deal of water to produce electricity. For hydroelectric power, dams must be built that could damage the local ecosystem.
Solar panels are able to create energy without using water and do not have a negative impact on the ecosystem. According to the US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the use of solar systems could reduce water consumption in 36 states. This could help to solve water scarcity issues.
3. Reduces Dependence on Fossil Fuels
There is a finite supply of fossil fuels on Earth. Even though we will not have exhausted our supply for many years, it is important to consider that fossil fuels will not be there forever. Fossil fuels release 35.9 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, meaning that releasing it into the atmosphere causes the earth’s atmosphere to warm over time.
Alarmingly, the mean global temperature has risen 2.07 degrees Fahrenheit since the early 1900s. This may not seem like a large increase, but the effects of global warming have changed weather patterns and affected wild habitats around the globe.
Solar energy will allow industries to replace some if not all of their fossil fuel energy with a clean, renewable alternative.
4. Improving the Health of Humanity Over Time
Cleaner air could have a beneficial impact on human health. Incidences of asthma and other respiratory problems that are aggravated by pollution could decrease. When the environment is cleaner, the entire human race will benefit along with the natural world.
5. Measurable Savings
If only 14 percent of the country’s energy demand were met by solar energy, cumulative greenhouse gas emissions could decrease by 10 percent before the year 2050. This could save governments and industries up to $252 billion each year. Each kilowatt-hour of solar energy could be worth 2.2 cents.
With 14 percent of the country’s power coming from solar, the energy sector could reduce its emissions by up to 10 percent by 2050. Currently, solar power represents only 1.8 percent of energy used in the United States, so there is a great deal of room for improvement.
6. Lower Maintenance Costs
Solar energy is associated with lower maintenance costs than non-renewable energy sources. New technologies are making solar equipment less cost-intensive to keep running efficiently. Developers are looking into economies of scale to drive down the operational costs and lower the cost of energy production.
The cost of operating and maintaining a photovoltaic solar system fell from $20 per kilowatt per year to $14 per kilowatt per year from 2017 to 2018.
Fossil fuel energy costs between 5 cents and 17 cents per kilowatt-hour, while solar energy costs between 3 cents and 6 cents.
7. Government Tax Incentives
There are significant federal and state programs in place to encourage the use of solar energy. The federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) provides up to 26 percent savings in 2020. Since the ITC was created in 2006, the U.S. solar industry has grown by more than 10,000 percent, with an average annual growth of 50 percent over the past ten years.
California, for example, offers many incentives at the state and city level. These incentives offer a range of benefits for building green, gaining expedited permits, and special financing provisions.
In today’s worsening climate, it is even more important that every building owner take steps to reduce their environmental emissions. Solar energy has many financial benefits in addition to its environmental benefits, including tax credits and lower maintenance costs.
When building owners choose to go solar, they can feel good about their energy choices and know that they are doing their part for the environment. Rusty Tweed encourages all building owners to look into the environmental benefits of solar energy.