By Jessica Reynolds
Solar power offers a range of significant advantages and benefits. What’s more, the list of disadvantages is growing shorter all the time. Whether you are an individual or a business, and regardless of where you live or are based, solar power and energy is an excellent reason to get excited. Here’s why:
1. Protect the environment
Solar power is a green source of power. As such, it is a wonderful alternative to fossil fuels that have done such damage to the air, soil, water and atmosphere of our beautiful but vulnerable planet. There is no doubt that using solar power protects the environment. While some water is used for cooling during production, and the solar panel manufacturing process does produce some emissions, the adverse environmental effects are far less than that of fossil fuels during and after manufacture.
In addition, once solar systems and panels have been installed, they use no water at all and produce zero emissions. This means they will contribute greatly to reducing air pollution and to conserving our increasingly scarce water resources. Research and development is underway to clean up the manufacturing process, too.
2. Reduce expenses
These days most households and businesses have to reduce costs. While solar is not inexpensive to buy and install, savings on power begin in month one. In addition, the maintenance costs are negligible.
There are also other considerations. Firstly, the price or cost of solar panels and systems is decreasing all the time. It won’t be too long before solar is very competitive indeed. In addition, an increasing number of solar companies now offer the less costly option of leasing rather than buying. In the U.S., rebates and tax incentives are provided which further increases the viability of solar. Finally, in some countries and states, one can earn credit or money by feeding excess power back into the grid. Websites such as Solar Power World provide helpful overview and review information.
3. Promote independence
The cost of retail electricity is increasing globally, and many of us are battling to pay our utility bills. Signs are that this won’t change any time soon. The alternative is to produce enough power to be independent of the power grid or go off grid.
This kind of independence doesn’t only apply at an individual or corporate level because countries also benefit as they become less reliant on other nations to supply oil or other fossil fuels to meet power needs. Websites such as Solar Action Alliance provide links and very helpful general information.
4. Reduce poverty and illiteracy
Because solar is mobile thanks to its off-grid nature, it can be installed anywhere. This means that even very remote and rural areas and communities can benefit from solar. Furthermore, the locations where there is the worst poverty, little healthcare and highest unemployment are often those that enjoy the largest number of sun hours per annum.
Solar power means those same rural villages and communities can have water thanks to solar-powered pumps, as well as light for homes, clinics and schools thanks to photovoltaic panels, and better equipped clinics thanks to refrigeration for medicines and vaccinations. Literacy levels improve because students can study beyond daylight hours, and employment is created because with power comes cottage and other small community projects.
5. Promote associated technologies
We hardly need to be concerned, but we will run out of solar power when the sun either consumes earth in 5 billion years or dies in about 6.5 billion years. Given neither even poses an imminent danger, solar can certainly be described as renewable as it is not finite in a way fossil fuels are. Similarly, and because the amount of power generated by the sun in a day is staggering, solar is also sustainable. In other words, we can meet all our power needs without tapping into the power that will be needed in the future.
Because we know solar is here to stay, a great deal of time, energy, and money is being invested in solar power initiatives. NASA has made use of solar technology for some time and is therefore, and not surprisingly, the leader in several branches of more ‘futuristic’ technological developments such as the Helios unmanned aircraft (pictured). We already have solar powered boats and planes and fully solar motor vehicles are not far behind.
Other research and development aims at improving efficiency, especially in relation to storing power, and making solar more cost effective and therefore affordable. Individual pilot projects focusing on specific aspects such as refrigeration are also rolling out in many countries that will have an impact on healthcare provision and infrastructure.
So, if you are concerned about the state of our planet and the environment you will be a supporter of green energy. If you are battling to meet increasing expenses alternative energy can help. If you care about the state of people in rural or poor regions, solar holds the key. If you want to know that you are leaving a planet with cleaner air, soil, and water then the sun provides the solution. Solar power is exciting for all these reasons… and more!
Image credit: Flickr/stantontcady
Jessica Reynolds is a Community Manager at Solar Action Alliance. She loves her Brittany Spaniel named Frankie, traveling, Michigan summers, and helping promote sustainable energy.