Economic, Environment, and Health
Solar energy is emerging as one of the most efficient renewable energy sources, and as a result the technology is improving by leaps and bounds. Additionally, the cost of a solar energy system installation is diminishing, which makes it much more attainable and feasible. Solar energy also bestows specific economic, environmental, and health benefits upon you as the solar energy user, as well as the entire planet and global population. Let’s take a look at each of these benefits in depth.
The first and most obvious economic benefit is that your electricity bill will go down since you’ll be producing your own energy. Of course, there are startup costs associated with installing the solar panels, batteries, charge controllers, inverters, and so forth, but once you’ve installed the system, it will begin to pay for itself immediately by drastically reducing your energy bill.
Fortunately, there are very few maintenance costs associated with harvesting solar energy, since there are no moving parts in the system. Most panels have 25-year warranties or more, and the only maintenance they require is occasional cleaning so that they can work at maximum efficiency. The inverter that changes incoming power from direct current to alternating current (what we use for standard power outlets) will eventually wear out and need to replace, but only every five to ten years. So, once you’ve installed the system, there is very little in the way of maintenance and repair costs.
Spinning Your Meter Backwards
As an added bonus, if you are connected to the power grid and generate and store more electricity than you use, you may even be able to sell this excess energy back to the grid. This is called Net Energy Metering (NEM).
That way, your solar energy system can pay itself off even more quickly, not only by eliminating your energy bill but also by bringing in income for you. Naturally, this is dependent on having enough sunny weather and a large enough solar energy system that you are able to harness more power than you can use.
Unlike coal or natural gas, solar energy is a fully renewable energy source. Barring an unexpected and catastrophic celestial event, the sun is expected to shine for roughly another five billion years, and harnessing the sun’s radiation and turning it into electricity does nothing to deplete the lifetime of the sun or the amount of radiation the sun produces.
Solar energy can be harvested all over the world and it’s available nearly every day, with the exception of the arctic and Antarctic circles during their seasonal months of darkness. For most of the world, however, solar energy is readily available, does not deplete any finite resources or fossil fuels, and does not directly contribute to the pollution of the atmosphere.
Solar energy is also typically less physically intrusive on the environment than other forms of renewable energy, for instance wind turbines or hydroelectric power.
Wind turbines are extremely large and require a lot of space between them, resulting in enormous swathes of land that are dotted with the huge structures.
Hydroelectricity is usually generated by water that passes through massive dams on rivers. Both of these options are great compared to burning fossil fuels, but are not particularly feasible for a single home or business to employ.
In contrast, you can capture enough photovoltaic energy from the sun to supply most if not all of the power needs of single structure simply by covering the roof in panels -- a space which is generally not utilized anyways. This smaller footprint means less physical interference with the environment.
Arguably most critically, solar energy has the potential to fight the effects of global warming, including extreme weather, changes to ecosystems around the world, rising sea levels, and vanishing glaciers.
Each home or business that converts to solar energy makes a measurable difference in the number of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere. While doing so, you get to keep more of your money and not just giving it away to your electric utility.
The health benefits of solar energy are varied and dramatic. Solar energy can be used to distill drinking water in developing countries which prevents the spread of waterborne diseases, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives each year. Clean water is also vital for sanitation and personal hygiene, which of course assist with the prevention and treatment of diseases and illnesses. In parts of the world where electricity is not readily available, solar energy can also provide lifesaving power to run, for example, electronic medical equipment.
On a more global scale, using solar energy can improve respiratory and cardio health. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, converting to solar energy means fewer nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxides, and particulate matter in the air. These pollutants can cause chronic bronchitis as well as other breathing and heart problems. Solar energy reduces carbon footprints and greenhouse gas emissions to protect our long-term health and viability of the planet, while also improving our physical health in an immediate sense.