Solar Energy is Gaining Popularity
Solar energy is becoming more and more popular these days, particularly in residential applications. It is advances in technology that have allowed the explosion of new photovoltaic (PV) systems we are seeing today. Solar technology has matured to the point where residential systems are now practical for many homeowners. More PV panels are popping up on roofs every day and more people are beginning to realize and benefit from the advantages of solar energy.
If you want to get on board with renewable solar energy, you may be interested in reading another article I've written about different ways to use solar energy at home.
Even with all of this new growth, solar applications are extremely under employed today; but with time this energy source will likely become one of our most important resources for power production. There are 5 main solar energy advantages, each one a reason in its self to go solar. Together, these advantages make a powerful case for a solar addition to nearly any house that has sufficient access to sunlight.
Solar energy is Free
The sun's rays strike your property every day of the year (unless of course you live at extreme latitude) and you are not charged a penny for it. There may even be laws protecting your right to solar access, depending on where you live.
Of course it isn’t completely free to convert those rays into useable energy, but the payback time on many systems are quite short now (from 3-5 years) depending on the energy requirements and system size. And, after the initial installation, a solar system will provide energy for decades. In addition to saving you money, with grid tie systems you can sell excess electricity you produce back to the utility grid.
If that’s not enough, there are incentive programs, rebates and grants available to offset the initial cost of installing a photovoltaic system to make it more cost effective. For information about local and national solar energy incentives, visit www.dsireusa.org.
Solar Energy is Abundant
Every day of the year solar energy strikes the earth. According to a Scientific American article, “A Solar Grand Plan” (Zweibel and Mason, December 2007), the sun's energy hitting the earth in just 40 minutes is theoretically enough to provide energy for the entire human population in one year. Of course, only a small fraction of this can be collected, but the point is, there is an abundance of solar energy all around us, we only need to harness it.
In order to harness solar energy, the element silicon is used to create solar cells that convert sunlight into electric energy. Although sunlight is a renewable resource, Silicon is not. Fortunately, Silicone is the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust, after oxygen. And because a silicon solar cell will continue to produce useable energy for decades, there is not much concern of running out of silicon to manufacture solar panels.
Using Solar Energy is Environmentally Friendly
Perhaps the most important of the 5 solar energy advantages is that it is a step toward environmental sustainability. Replacing traditional sources of energy with this clean source helps reduce pollution, conserve resources, and set us on a path to a sustainable future. Because solar energy use doesn’t burn fuel, pollute, or create hazardous waste, it is an excellent way to reduce our impact and get closer to carbon neutrality.
Even considering the entire lifecycle of photovoltaic panels and additional equipment in solar power systems, the environmental impact is low compared to other electricity production methods. It is true that the manufacturing of PV panels isn’t perfectly clean. It does cause some carbon emissions, but the environmental payback for most panels is very low. Considering that PV panels can produce clean power for 30 years or longer, their initial production is worth it.
Solar Power Systems Are Easy To Maintain
After initial installation, PV systems require very little maintenance and continue to provide power for decades. The components of a solar electric system are made to last, and there are usually no moving parts, so there is little maintenance required to keep a system running smoothly. Once the system is installed, there is also very little cost involved. There is little or no cost to operate a PV system and reoccurring costs to maintain the system are either minor, or only required every 10 years or so (for example the battery). It is also easy to add capacity to the system over time as your budget allows or as your family and electricity needs grow.
Solar Power Can Help You Become Energy Independent
One of the main solar energy benefits is that making use of it can reduce or eliminate your consumption from the utility grid. You will be less dependent or not dependent at all on your local power company for your power needs and you will be paying them less monthly or nothing at all. You will also be able to continue supplying electricity for your home or business even during a power outage.
Stand alone systems can be installed in remote locations where access to the grid is impossible or very expensive. An off- grid system with batteries can provide your daily electric requirements without being tied in to the utility system at all.
In addition, using solar power reduces dependence on foreign sources of petrolium products that may become scarce in the future. By tapping into solar energy we are moving toward a more sustainable future, not only environmentally but economically as well.
Reasons to go solar abound, but the 5 main overarching solar energy advantages are that it is free, abundant, clean, systems are low maintenance and it can help achieve energy independence. These advantages make residential solar energy an excellent opportunity for many home owners. Currently solar power is drastically underutilized, but its use is steadily growing. With all of these things going for solar it could (and I believe should) become a major energy source for our future.