10 Positive Environmental Impacts of Solar Energy

Positive Environmental Impacts of Solar Energy

You may have heard about the environmental benefits of solar energy. 

Clean, green, renewable, sustainable. Such terms are bandied about in this context. 

Before going solar, you may want to know more about solar energy, solar panels, and why and how it is good for the environment. 

In case you have already done some market research about installing a solar power system for your home or business, you must be aware of the money and work involved. However, numerous financial incentives including federal and state tax credits are offered for solar installation to encourage more and more people to embrace clean energy.

Besides the monetary motivations, installing a solar system also offers the chance to reduce your dependence on grid energy or even export the excess energy generated to the grid through the net-metering arrangement.

If you really care about our planet, all these inducements come secondary. The real motivation to go solar would be the positive effects of solar energy on the environment.

In this article, we will discuss some of the reasons why solar panels are good for the environment.

Why are Solar Panels Good for the Environment?

Even though so much is said and written about the positive environmental impact of solar energy, you may not be aware of all of it. Find here listed all the reasons why solar panels are good for the environment.

1. It’s renewable.

This means solar energy gets replenished as you use it up. As long as the sun is shining, we are not going to run out of solar panels energy. 

On the other hand, fossil fuels like coal and oil are finite or non-renewable resources. It takes millions of years for them to form deep down in the earth’s crust. The rate at which we are extracting and utilizing, it can only be treated as a limited resource. It is estimated that we will run out of fossil fuels in a few decades.

Unless we switch to renewable energy sources like solar energy, we will be left stranded when that day comes. All the more reason why we need to embrace solar power.

As more and more people install solar power systems, the burden on fossil fuel-generated grid energy will come down. When you adopt solar technology, it means one less home relying on fossil fuels for their energy needs. The impact is much bigger than you may want to believe.

2. It’s clean.

Solar energy is generated using photovoltaic technology. The photons present in the sunlight excite the electrons in the semiconductors in the PV cells, making them flow. This flow of electrons is electricity. 

The photovoltaic process doesn’t involve burning or its consequent emission of greenhouse gasses. That makes this process a clean one. In the case of fossil fuels, they are burned to produce electricity. And, this results in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, leading to global warming and climate change.

Going fully solar can bring down your carbon footprint substantially.

3. It offers you freedom from the grid.

Grid energy comes with numerous downsides. It is mostly generated using fossil fuels, which are non-renewable and polluting and contribute to climate change. Utility rates continue to go up at a steady pace, leaving home budgets in the red. 

For homes located far away from the grid, a solar energy system offers the perfect solution for accessing electricity.

However, going off the grid is easier said than done as relying fully on solar energy necessitates a more elaborate setup. The sun shines only during the daytime and as a result, solar energy is generated only during the day. To meet the energy needs at night without being connected to the grid, you need a solar battery to store energy.

Instead of going off the grid, you can also stay connected to the grid even while using solar energy. With the net-metering arrangement in place, you can export the excess energy generated during the day to the grid and get paid for it. 

There is a clear advantage to having a solar installation even when connected to the grid. When there is a disruption in power supply from the grid, you can continue to enjoy electricity as long as you have the necessary arrangements in place. 

4. It requires little maintenance.

As the solar installation doesn’t have any moving parts, wear and tear are minimal. The chances of breakdown and malfunctioning are also negligible. This is good news indeed as most other energy sources including other renewable energy resources like wind and biomass are harder and costlier to maintain.

The initial cost of a solar installation is substantial but numerous incentives available make the financial implication less severe and more bearable. Once you have the solar power system in place, it is easier and simpler to maintain.

Maintenance of solar panels involves keeping the surface of the panels free of dust, dirt, and debris. Periodical scrubbing and washing with soap and water are good enough for this. Cutting overhanging tree branches above the solar panels can help in raising their power generation capacity as well as eliminating chances of damage from fallen branches. 

With proper care, solar panels will continue to generate power for 25-30 years or even more. This means less waste generated and less harm to the environment.

5. It doesn’t create noise pollution.

Typically, power generation is done using generators that convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. This means moving parts and high levels of noise pollution. This is true not just in the case of energy generation using fossil fuels. Renewable energy sources like wind energy also involve high decibels of sound from the turning of the wind turbines.

The photovoltaic process that helps generate solar energy doesn’t create noise pollution as the electricity production process doesn’t involve generators or moving parts. All you need is to expose the solar cells to sunlight to generate electricity. It is a silent process. 

6. It reduces air pollution.

The process of generating solar energy doesn’t pollute the environment in any way. However, the mining of raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, and setting up of solar panels do contribute to air pollution to some extent.

On the contrary, the mining of fossil fuels and the generation of electricity in a fossil-fuel-powered plant gives rise to high levels of air pollution besides the emission of greenhouse gasses. In comparison, the air pollution caused by solar energy systems is negligible.

7. It reduces water pollution.

Even though water is not directly involved in power generation other than in hydroelectric plants, indirect water use can lead to pollution of water sources including groundwater. This is true even in the case of renewable energy sources like biomass and geothermal power plants. 

Unlike any of these energy sources, solar energy doesn’t require or involve water anywhere in power generation. The only phase when water is required for solar energy production is during the manufacture of solar panels. And, this is nominal when compared to the pollution of water resources during other processes.

8. It reduces toxic waste.

We already know that fossil-fuel-powered electricity plants emit high amounts of air pollutants and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Besides this, it also generates very large quantities of hazardous waste. 

Most power plants dump this toxic waste in landfills, abandoned mines, and similar areas, polluting the land and water sources. This poses high levels of danger to the environment and well-being of people living near these sites. 

Solar energy, on the other hand, creates less waste and less pollution, meaning, less threat to the environment and people. We can recycle solar panels, thereby making them work longer.

9. It reduces our reliance on non-renewable resources.

There is no denying that our energy demand is going up and is showing no tendency to slow down. So, ultimately, it is for us to decide how we are generating power. The more we use renewable energy to produce electricity, the less will be our reliance on non-renewable energy sources. 

Solar energy is free and one of the least polluting among all energy sources. Sunlight is available in plenty around the year in most places worldwide. In comparison, non-renewable resources like fossil fuels are fast depleting as their availability is limited.

10. It slows down climate change.

The burning of fossil fuels is considered one of the biggest contributors to climate change. Its uncontrolled emission of greenhouse gasses has a devastating effect on the weather patterns and climate across the world. 

Extreme climatic conditions like severe droughts, heavy rains, flooding, landslides, hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions are all attributed to the thoughtless actions of man.

Switching over to solar energy by installing solar panels can bring down the use of fossil fuels and thereby their contribution to climate change. As more and more people adopt solar energy, the emission of greenhouse gasses is bound to come down. This has the potential to slow down climate change and reduce the severity of climate disasters.

Bottom line

Among all the renewable resources, solar power is the most popular for a variety of reasons. Ease of access, availability, and adoption make solar energy your best chance to shake off the dependence on fossil fuels and do your bit for the environment. 

After all, each one of us should pledge to leave this beautiful planet of ours in a better shape than we found it. Going solar is one of the significant ways to achieve this.

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