Renewable Energy:: Solar Offers Environmental Benefit and Profitable Investment
Jul 31, 2013 04:12PM
● By Nick Ochi
Multiple solar photovoltaic panels are installed on residential roofs, creating a solar array that generates electricity using sunlight. Fairfield County residence with solar panels installed.
Every hour enough energy from the sun falls onto Earth to power the entire planet for a full year. Researchers and scientists across the globe agree that solar energy is by far our most available energy resource. But if so much clean solar energy is available, why do we still rely on oil, gas, nuclear, coal and other energy types to power our daily living? The reason is that our planet is not photovoltaic.
Solar photovoltaics (PV) are a simple, yet amazing technology. If solar PV panels are allowed to receive sun, they will produce electricity. Think of it as a functioning, scalable power plant that only requires free fuel in the form of sunlight. This technology was first discovered in 1876, and today solar PV is poised to become a serious alternative to the more commonly used energy sources. Thanks to tremendous advances in technology in recent years, solar PV is becoming a cost-effective energy source, and it operates with huge advantages, from the environmental to the economic.
Other energy types such as oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear and even hydroelectric do not compare with solar for sustainability and ecological footprint. All of those sources cause some level of damage during extraction, combustion and/or distribution, while solar stands apart as an unobtrusive, clean and local power source. Solar simply doesn’t work the Earth as hard as those other technologies, and therefore can’t possibly raise the same environmental concerns. By only using the sunlight from the roof, PV works with nature to provide a non-polluting and consistent energy supply. In a time where we must overcome impending climate change, those environmental benefits mean more than ever.
By using sunlight as its key input, solar PV works environmentally, but this same principle also makes it a smart financial investment. Solar PV operates in conjunction with our natural resources, relying on a free, dependable and easily captured fuel—sunlight. This means that once a solar power plant is built, the operational costs for the following 25 years will be negligible. With sunlight naturally coming in, solar array owners don’t have to pay to keep their array running. One again, this provides a distinct advantage over other energy types, which continually require expensive shipments of oil, gas or coal.
Installation costs have for years been the main hurdle for those interested in using solar PV, but those costs have recently dropped to the point of “grid parity”. This means that, PV is actually the cheapest form of energy today for many homeowners. By installing a solar array, they can reduce or even eliminate their monthly electric bill for the next 25 years. The investment pays for itself very quickly, and rebates and incentives often cover up to 50 percent of the installation costs.
The investment in solar isn’t just about its impressive environmental benefits. A homeowner can also save significant money. Corporate America has caught on to this fact and the top five companies by onsite solar capacity are household names: WalMart, Costco, Kohl’s, Ikea and Macy’s. These companies might see solar as good PR, but there is no way they would have made those investments if they weren’t also good for the bottom line. Warren Buffet, who recently invested approximately $2 billion in PV power plants, sees profit in solar, as well. These top business minds see real long-term savings with solar, and are making their investments today. This same payback applies to the average homeowner, as shown in the graph, and the immeasurable environmental benefits provide an ideal reason for everyone to consider solar.
Photovoltaic technology has potential to alter our energy landscape by reducing pollution and saving money for consumers. As these benefits become better understood, financial institutions like the technology and are offering various financing options, including zero-down payment. To get started, interested property owners can contact a local installer, who will provide a free site survey and proposal, and give a resident all the tools needed to make an informed decision. The switch to solar demonstrates a commitment to a more sustainable future, reaping significant savings along the way. So to answer the question one more time, why do we still rely on oil, gas, coal, nuclear, and other energy types? Because the earth is not photovoltaic…yet.
For more information about Elektron Solar, call 203-557-3127 or visit ElektronSolar.com.