Solar gardens have so many benefits to our health, the environment, our job market and so much more. As the cost of solar continues to drop, now is the time to take a serious look. This article provides information about the benefits of solar, so homeowners and communities can fully understand why solar is such an important resource to be developed.
Help the Environment and Future Generations
Solar power is a clean energy source that does not produce harmful emissions that contribute to climate change and global warming.
According to a recent Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (LBNL) report evaluating the impact of renewable portfolio standards on greenhouse gas emissions, scientists predict significant changes to the Earth’s temperature as a result of past and future greenhouse gas emissions. These changes are a threat to the environment. Threats include: extreme weather, rising ocean levels, threats to infrastructure, wildfires, disruptions to agriculture and ecosystem. All of which pose risks to our health and our way of life.
Furthermore, scientific reports dating back to the 1970s warned of the damages caused by fossil fuels and noting such issues could force a move from coal.
The good news, as found in the LBNL report, is that by switching to renewable energy sources such as solar, we can recognize immense savings. According to the report that looked at 2013, renewable energy produced a global savings of $2.2 billion in the form of lower future climate change damages.
Solar energy has the potential to protect the Earth from continued climate change, savings us billions of dollars and also preserving our planet for future generations.
The solar industry can be attributed to significant job creation. Solar is labor intensive–requiring manufacturing, installation and sales, where coal and electric rely primarily on mechanical.
According to Forbes Magazine, Solar Employs More People In U.S. Electricity Generation Than Oil, Coal And Gas Combined.
Fortune Magazine notes that solar is creating jobs in the U.S. a staggering 12 times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy.
Furthermore, according to the Huffington Post (which puts the job creation figure at 17 times), solar jobs pay well, providing needed relief to struggling families. The Huffington Post also reports that 1 in 50 new jobs in 2016 were created by solar energy.
Improve Public Health
Pollutants from the refinement and use of coal and natural gas have been linked to serious health problems such as cancer, neurological disorders, breathing problems, heart attacks and more. (http://www.solarresourceguide.org/benefits-of-solar/)
According to the LBNL study cited above, the use of renewable energy accounted for significant reductions in Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Particulate Matters (PM) – all of which are attributed to a wide range of health issues. Those reductions (see figure below) result in a $5.2 billion benefit.
Since solar does not emit any harmful byproducts, making a switch to it can significantly improve public health and save on medical costs.
Protect our water supply
Fossil fuels emit nitrogen in a variety of forms. Although nitrogen is a very abundant element on earth, fossil fuels from coal burning power plants, cars, large industrial operations and more result in man made excess nitrogen, which goes into our environment in the form of smog and acid rain. The EPA notes that the nitrogen eventually makes its way into our water supply.
According to the EPA, “…excess nutrients contribute to pollution, harmful algal blooms and oxygen-deprived aquatic zones. Excess ammonia and low pH in these areas are toxic to aquatic organisms and affect their survival.”
In another report, concerned scientists note that coal mining and fracturing methods to withdraw oil have serious impacts on water supplies. Underground and surface mines can draw heavy metals to the surface and into our water supply. Hydraulic fracturing requires 3-6 million gallons of water per well. Creating a serious drain on water supplies.
Renewable energy sources have no impact on our water supply, reducing acid rain, water usage and other threats to our water supply.
Increase home values
Installing solar panels will provides an immediate relief in home energy bills, and it also improves home resale values. Since the majority of the costs of solar are in the up front installation, the housing market sees solar panels as a major feature that increase home resale values.
Many households are able to reduce or eliminate their electric bill by going solar. As the price of solar panels continues to drop, it becomes ever more affordable. Tax credits are also available (but hurry!). According to Forbes, the government let tax credits for geothermal and wind expire at the end of 2016, but solar rebates are still in effect. In fact, homeowners can receive a tax credit worth 30% of a solar installation investment for the home. An Energy efficiency tax rebate of $500 is still available.
Community solar programs even let renters who cannot install their own panels participate in solar programs. Companies like Solar City have created programs that make it easy for people who are unable to install solar panels to reap the benefits.
Create Energy Independence and Stability
Global markets have price fluctuations and can be unstable depending on foreign relations, war, weather and other factors. By relying less on foreign nations for our energy, we insulate the economy from such fluctuations. According to Energy Sage, even Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s largest oil producers recognizes the benefits of solar energy.
Also, natural gas and electricity can become unstable in times of drought and heat wave and other demand. Solar uses the sun, which is abundant (shining some 4.6 billion years!) and not subject to usage stressors. Thus, solar energy is a very stable energy source.
Want more information?
Here are a few more articles to read that highlight the many benefits of going solar: