5 Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy
Whether you’re a homeowner or commercial business owner, solar energy is a sustainable, clean, and affordable way to generate electricity. While it provides substantial financial benefits — like electricity savings and increased property value — it also provides health and environmental benefits, which are as equally important.
If you’re thinking about switching to solar energy, it’s worth taking a few minutes to consider these health and environmental benefits:
1. Solar Energy Decreases Air Pollution and Reduces Public Health Issues
Did you know that about 32% of greenhouse gas emissions1 in the United States is a result of electricity production? Fossil fuels, which emit carbon dioxide (CO2), make up the majority of greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector — but smaller amounts of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are also emitted. These harmful gases are the leading contributors to climate change and a decrease in air quality. Air pollution can cause cardiovascular and respiratory illness and even long-term damage to your organs. On the other hand, generating electricity with solar panels produces no greenhouse gasses and significantly reduces carbon emissions. Even just one household switching to solar and generating cleaner air will make a difference.
2. Solar Energy Reduces Water Scarcity
Thermoelectric power plants, natural gas and coal-fired facilities require vast amounts of water to assist with their crucial cooling requirements. However, coal-fired power plants alone account for 72% of all toxic water pollution in the country and have been linked to serious health conditions like cancer and neurological damage.2 Every year, power plants dump millions of tons of toxic pollutants into our nation’s waterways. While most manufacturing processes require some water, solar cells — or photovoltaic (PV) cells — convert sunlight directly into electricity without the need for water. Solar cells are responsible for cleaner drinking water!
3. Solar Energy Reduces Your Carbon Footprint
Solar energy is a great option for homeowners that want to reduce their carbon footprint. The average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer is 10,766 kilowatt hours (kWh), assuming an energy consumption of approximately 897 kWh per month.3 By installing solar on your home, you can reduce your impact on the environment by generating power with zero emission. Average consumption will produce enough clean energy to offset the emissions from 19,638 miles driven by an average vehicle, 902 gallons of gasoline consumed, and 8,766 pounds of coal burned. While you won’t be able to completely eliminate all of your home’s greenhouse gas emissions, switching to solar power can make a positive difference for the environment.
4. Solar Energy Reduces the Need for Non-Renewable Resources
Fossil fuels are nonrenewable energy sources — they cannot be readily replaced by natural means on a level equal to its consumption. Eventually the world will run out of fossil fuels or it will become too expensive to find and then extract when all other sources are depleted. In comparison, solar energy is a renewable energy. Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on earth with 173,000 terawatts of solar energy striking the Earth continuously — that’s more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use.4 Switching to solar energy is the best way to hedge against the reality of finite fuel resources that will eventually become an energy crisis.
5. Solar Energy Assists in Preserving Nature
Open land is in limited supply in many parts of the United States, and thermoelectric power plants, natural gas and coal-fired facilities require huge plots of land to handle their massive production lines. This land could be preserved or used for other purposes like businesses or residences. Additionally, these plants and facilities tend to pollute the surrounding areas with gases and toxic wastes and negatively affecting the local environment. Solar energy, on the other hand, can be placed on currently unused rooftops while giving off zero emission.