What Is The Biggest Benefit To Solar?

Solar Energy is Renewable

What is the biggest benefit to solar?

Solar energy is considered renewable because it comes from the sun. The sun will continue converting hydrogen into helium for billions of years to come, powering the sun and emitting solar radiation in the process. What makes solar a true renewable source of energy is the sun’s endless production of light, heat and other forms of radiation that can be converted into usable electricity or heat (1).

Other renewable energy sources like wind and hydropower ultimately rely on solar radiation as well to fuel them. For example, wind energy relies on uneven heating of the atmosphere to generate wind currents and the water cycle relies on the sun’s heat to evaporate and condense water. Solar energy is the original renewable source that empowers all other renewable sources.

Solar Reduces Reliance on Fossil Fuels

One of the biggest benefits of solar energy is that it reduces our reliance on fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas. Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity is a major contributor to climate change. Fossil fuel combustion emits greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, which trap heat in the atmosphere and warm the planet. Solar panels provide clean, renewable electricity without emitting any greenhouse gases.

According to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, solar power in 2018 reduced CO2 emissions by an estimated 28 million metric tons – equivalent to taking over 6 million cars off the road. As solar continues to expand its reach, it will displace more fossil fuel generation and lead to further emission reductions [1]. This is crucial for mitigating the impacts of climate change.

In addition to climate benefits, reducing our use of fossil fuels also decreases air pollution. Burning coal and oil releases particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and other hazardous substances that harm human health. Widespread adoption of solar will lead to cleaner air and improved public health.

Solar also provides energy security by reducing dependence on imported fuels susceptible to price volatility and geopolitical tensions. With abundant sunshine available everywhere, solar offers a cost-effective and reliable energy source right where it is needed.

Solar is Becoming More Affordable

The cost of solar panels and batteries has declined dramatically over the past decade, making solar energy much more affordable for homeowners and businesses. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), solar panel prices have dropped by over 70% since 2010 [1]. Major price reductions for lithium-ion batteries have also helped drive down the installed costs of solar energy systems.

There are several factors contributing to these cost declines. Improvements in solar cell technology and manufacturing processes have steadily increased efficiency and productivity. Economies of scale, as the solar industry has grown, have enabled manufacturers to reduce costs through mass production. Increased competition between solar companies has also put downward pressure on pricing.

According to industry analysts, solar is projected to continue getting cheaper as technology improves and adoption increases globally. One report predicts total installed costs for residential systems could fall by another 40% by 2030 [2]. This will allow solar power to become even more cost-competitive with conventional electricity.

Solar Creates Jobs

The solar energy industry is a major source of job creation worldwide. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the solar photovoltaic industry employed over 4 million people globally in 2021, an increase of over 700,000 jobs from the previous year (https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/09/1127351). Solar jobs grew in countries like India, Brazil, China, and the United States. In the US alone, over 250,000 people worked in solar energy in 2021, an increase of 8,846 jobs from the year before (https://irecusa.org/census-solar-job-trends/).

Solar energy creates local jobs in installation, operations, and maintenance that cannot be outsourced. Rooftop solar installations, solar farms, and other distributed generation projects require local workers to build, operate, and maintain the systems. The US Department of Energy found that energy jobs, including solar, grew faster than overall US employment in recent years (https://www.energy.gov/eere/clean-energy-job-creation-and-growth). Solar job growth is projected to continue as more buildings, homes, and infrastructure adopt solar energy.

Solar Provides Energy Independence

One of the biggest benefits of solar energy is that it allows homes and businesses to achieve greater energy independence from the traditional electrical grid. By installing solar panels, households can generate their own renewable electricity, reducing reliance on their utility provider. This energy independence provides protection from grid outages and electricity price fluctuations.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, renewable energy sources like solar can help America become energy independent and secure. With solar power, households take control of their own energy supply instead of depending on foreign fossil fuels that face geopolitical and price volatility risks. Going solar allows consumers to lock in affordable electricity rates over the long term.

By generating renewable power on-site, solar homes and businesses gain energy autonomy and minimize the impact of utility rate increases. This stability and predictability helps consumers budget for electricity expenses. Relying on the sun for power eliminates concerns over future fuel costs and availability. With greater energy independence, households and companies can invest in growing their savings and operations rather than worrying about electricity bills.

Solar Can Be Installed Almost Anywhere

One of the biggest benefits of solar panels is their incredible flexibility in where they can be installed. Unlike traditional power plants which require huge amounts of space, solar panels can go in all sorts of places.

The most common location for solar panels is on rooftops. By installing panels on roofs, unused space is put to good use generating clean energy. Rooftop solar allows homes and businesses to become mini power plants, reducing their reliance on the grid.

Beyond rooftops, solar panels can be mounted on ground-based racks, known as solar farms or solar fields. Large solar farms can be constructed on vacant land near cities, minimizing transmission costs. Parking lots and structures also make ideal locations for solar canopies, providing shade while generating power.https://www.forbes.com/home-improvement/solar/flexible-solar-panels/

With innovative solar materials like flexible panels, solar can even be integrated onto curved surfaces like vehicles, boats, and RV’s. Overall, the multitude of solar installation options demonstrates the versatility of solar power to go almost anywhere the sun shines.

Solar Improves Public Health

One of the biggest benefits of solar energy is that it improves public health by reducing pollution-related illness. Solar energy produces no emissions or pollution. In contrast, burning fossil fuels like coal and natural gas results in emissions of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, mercury, and other pollutants that harm human health.

According to a Harvard study, air pollution from burning fossil fuels contributes to 7 million premature deaths worldwide every year. Exposure to this pollution is linked to increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease, cancer, asthma attacks, hospitalizations, and even premature death.

By generating electricity from the sun rather than fossil fuels, solar energy avoids these emissions and reduces pollution-related illness. Studies have found that higher solar energy adoption correlates with improved public health. For example, when Germany deployed more solar power from 2000 to 2015, it saw associated declines in emissions and prevented an estimated 1,200 premature deaths.

In addition, switching to solar energy improves indoor air quality and health by eliminating onsite fossil fuel combustion for heat and hot water in buildings. The less we have to burn coal, oil, and natural gas, the cleaner our air will be. The positive impacts of solar on public health make it an extremely valuable renewable energy source.

Solar Boosts National Security

Reliance on imported fuels compromises energy security. The more the United States relies on importing oil and natural gas from other countries, the more vulnerable it becomes to global supply disruptions and price volatility. This reliance threatens national security.

Solar energy reduces dependence on fuel imports and enhances energy security. The U.S. Department of Energy found that greater use of renewable energy leads to improved energy independence and security by reducing reliance on imported fuels. Solar energy is a domestic energy source, allowing the U.S. to become more self-sufficient and less beholden to other nations for meeting energy needs.

Every megawatt of solar installed in the U.S. offsets the need for fossil fuel imports and keeps energy dollars at home. This increases the diversity of energy supply while mitigating risks associated with centralized power from a few sources. Solar decentralizes energy production, making the grid less vulnerable to disruptions. By boosting energy security, solar power enhances national security.

Solar is Endlessly Abundant

The sun provides far more energy than the world uses each year. According to a 2021 Carbon Tracker report (https://carbontracker.org/solar-and-wind-can-meet-world-energy-demand-100-times-over-renewables/), the potential solar and wind energy available is more than 100 times the world’s energy demand. In just one hour, the sun provides enough energy to the earth to power humanity’s needs for an entire year. Even if only a tiny fraction of the available solar energy was captured, it would be enough to meet global energy requirements.

The potential of solar power is practically limitless compared to humanity’s energy needs. As solar technology continues to advance and become more affordable, we are only beginning to tap into the abundant renewable energy provided by the sun. Solar energy will play a key role in powering the world for decades and centuries to come.

Solar Adds Grid Resilience

Adding solar energy generation improves the resilience and reliability of the electrical grid. Distributed solar generation from rooftop solar panels and local solar farms means electricity is produced closer to where it is used. This decentralized model reduces the grid’s vulnerability to failures at single points of transmission over long distances (1). Fewer transmission lines are needed when solar electricity is generated locally, making the grid infrastructure more resilient overall.

During extreme weather events that cause power outages, solar energy paired with storage can provide electricity locally and keep communities connected. Solar microgrids that disconnect from the larger grid can also continue providing power when surrounding areas lose electricity after storms or other disruptions. According to the Department of Energy, resilient solar power kept critical facilities in Puerto Rico energized after Hurricane Maria when nearly all transmission lines were destroyed (2).

As solar generation grows as a share of overall electricity production, the grid itself becomes more resilient and less susceptible to disruption. With proper planning and grid upgrades, higher solar penetration will improve grid stability and resilience in the face of challenges posed by climate change (3).


(1) https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/solar-and-resilience-basics

(2) https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/articles/solar-resilience-keeping-communities-connected

(3) https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2021/improving-the-power-grids-resilience-with-renewable-energy-resources/

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