How does solar power impact the environment?

Blog Post by SunSource Homes

OCTOBER 25, 2018 – Solar panels have been around for a long time. In all that time, a lot has changed.
Unfortunately, the information people have about solar power has not necessarily kept up with all the changes. So here’s the rundown of the pros and cons of solar energy so you can see if it’s the right choice for you.

THE PROS

  • You’ll never run out of sun.
    Solar energy is renewable, meaning that we can never run out of it. Other energy sources (like fossil fuels, coal, and nuclear) can’t claim that. As long as the sun is kicking, we’re good to go.
  • Solar is super eco-friendly.
    You leave virtually no carbon footprint when you harness the sun. Of course, as with any product, manufacturing, transporting and installation processes leave a tiny one which we’ll delve into when we get to the cons, but it amounts to almost nothing when compared to other energy sources.

  • Solar power can be harnessed from anywhere in the world.
    The sun reaches the entire planet, meaning solar power can be used anywhere. Think of the possibilities! We could solve power issues in third-world countries as well distill and provide drinkable water for millions!
  • The electric company may owe you.
    Remember those ridiculously high summer bills? With solar, your house could generate so much electricity that the company will actually owe you.
    This is due to net metering, which allows homeowners to be credited for the times their solar systems produce more electricity than what they consume.
    >>> How much can I save with solar panels?
  • You don’t even need the roof space.
    About 1/5 of American homes are not compatible with installation of solar panels according to a study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. However, we can work with homeowners for creative solutions such as ground mounts, and even new structures like detached sheds and pergolas.
  • You will increase your home’s value.
    Studies have shown that solar panels increase a home’s resale value an average of $4 for each solar watt installed. That means that a standard 5kW system would potentially increase your home value by about $20,000.
  • Solar panels won’t make a sound.
    Unlike other eco-options, such as wind turbines, solar systems don’t make noise. So you don’t have to worry about sacrificing your quiet time.
  • The government will pay you to go solar.
    The federal government will give you a federal tax credit equal to 30% of the installation costs of your system. There are state incentives available as well! For instance, Missouri, currently has available rebates for some businesses and residents, and Illinois offers Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) to incentivize the switch.

READ ABOUT MISSOURI SOLAR REBATES
>>Ameren Rebates for Missouri Customers

>>KCP&L Rebates for Missouri Customers 

>>Empire Electric Rebates for Missouri Customers 

  • Solar systems are long lasting and low maintenance. 
    With our standard, 25-year warranty, your maintenance and much more will be covered. You might need to remove leaves or a Frisbee to maximize sun exposure, but otherwise, the panels are extremely low-maintenance.
    >>>Get your free, no-obligation quote.
  • By using solar you’ll improve air quality.
    Utilizing solar power indirectly improves our air. Fossil fuel facilities generally have high emissions of air pollutants like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and greenhouse gas carbon dioxide – all of which are responsible for diseases like childhood asthma.
    Solar power has almost zero air emissions. Switching to solar reduces our use of fossil fuels, which means less air pollutants.
  • We’re creating more jobs and generating revenue.
    From conceptualization to realization to maintenance of the system, each step in the solar process requires a worker to guide it along. This means more jobs and more income wherever solar systems are deployed.
Source: Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

THE CONS

  • True “off the grid” systems are harder to achieve
    But don’t worry, grid-tied systems provide all the benefits of solar without having to install battery storage. When you choose to go solar, you will experience times where you generate a large excess of energy and times where you generate less. This is dependent on the weather in your area. Because of this, many people choose to stay plugged into the grid and lower their energy bill with solar systems.
  • Sometimes solar can disturb the land
    Solar panels have to live somewhere, right? This means solar can interfere with existing land usage, like mineral production, pastures, and military grounds. But careful planning can make wise use of space, such as this installation that provided a habitat for bees and other pollinators!
    Huge systems, such as solar farms, can require a land manicure to maximize production. This could potentially cause soil compaction, alteration of drainage channels, and increased runoff and erosion. It could also destroy wildlife habitations and ruin the growth of native vegetation.
    However, if you choose to work with Sun Source Homes, these issues can be easily mitigated. Your architect will recommend the perfect spot that will allow you to enjoy solar energy while minimizing your impact on the land.

>>How To Choose A Solar Company You Can Trust

  • Improper disposal can be destructive.
    Panels that utilize solar cells may contain hazardous materials.  These panels are sealed under normal circumstances, and our manufactures have excellent ratings for properly containing any potential environmental concerns.
However, were they to be damaged or improperly disposed of after being decommissioned, there could be an issue.
Solar systems may have oils or molten salts, hydraulic fluids, coolants, and lubricants – all materials that may be hazardous.
Planning for your disposal and making sure you get proper maintenance will make this threat close to nonexistent. And solar panels last so long, very few have been disposed at this point. We have decades to examine future recycling and disposal options.
  • The manufacturing process leaves a mark. 
    While solar power certainly is less polluting than fossil fuels, some steps in the manufacturing processes are associated with greenhouse gas emissions.
    Nitrogen trifluroide and sulfur hexafluoride has been traced back to the production of solar panels.
    The transportation and installation of solar power systems can also indirectly cause pollution. But the long-term benefits greatly outweigh any short-term, negative effects.
  • Not everyone sees the beauty.
    Some people are concerned with the aesthetics of having solar panels. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so this is not inherently an issue for everyone, but by working with your installer to pick the right spot for your systems, and ensuring a clean installation, you can protect your property’s curb appeal.

The bottom line is this: We’ve yet to find an energy source that has zero environmental impact, but solar power comes close.

If you’d like to see if solar is the right choice for you, start with getting a free, no-obligation quote.

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Want to know more about going solar?
Check out this helpful information from our Solar 101 series!

Solar 101: Can I Afford to Go Solar? – Learn about financing options and your expected return on investment.
Solar 101: Solar Savings: Find out how much solar can save, and how that savings is calculated!
Solar 101: How to Choose a Solar Company You Can Trust

 

Sources:

National Renewable Energy Library – Section 2.2

Solar Energy Development Programmatic EIS

Berkeley Lab Illuminates Price Premiums for U.S. Solar Home Sales

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
-Solar Desalination
-Benefits of Solar Energy
-The Value of Solar

Energy Sage – Chemicals produced in solar manufacturing