Sunday, January 29, 2012

Reviewing Solar Benefits

Besides being sleek, quiet, and clean, Solar Power is many other things.  Yes, it's expensive up front--but, the cost-effectiveness is becoming more and more clear to individuals, small businesses, all the way up to multi-national corporations.  Beyond the economic sustainability that solar presents to our country and to the world, here are a list of other benefits (some borrowed from a friend's column listed below):
Solar Pergola courtesy of Full Spectrum Solar
1.  Energy ROI:  the lifecycle energy that goes into making solar equipment is paid back within 2 years, yet the panels will continue converting sunlight into electricity for 40+ years (some say 50 years);
2.  Solar Power APPRECIATES in value over time.  As utility rates go up (avg 6-8% annually in nominal dollars), the value of the energy displaced by solar also goes up (and time for cost recovery goes down!);
3.  Solar energy is available during PEAK POWER CONSUMPTION hours of the day, making the grid power system more sustainable, thus:
4.   ...decreasing the need to build new fossil fuel power plants to meet the peak demands;
5.  ...and reducing the overall reliance on coal, nuclear, and natural gas to meet increasing demands for power;
6.  Solar Power displaces approximately 1.75 pounds of CO2 per kilowatt-hour here in Wisconsin.  In other parts of the nation, solar displaces upwards of 2 pounds per kWh;
7.  Solar Power (heat and electricity) reduces the need to increase the usage of METHANE (aka 'natural gas') for power and heat.  Methane gas (CH4) is more than 20 times more potent a Greenhouse Gas emission than is carbon dioxide;
8.  Solar Power does not pollute our water tables or our air as does METHANE 'natural' gas does.  Extracting methane 'natural' gas from FRACKING wells has shown to create fissures and leaks of dangerous FRACKING chemicals into our water aquifers and/or directly into private drinking water wells;
9.  Solar Power is becoming LESS EXPENSIVE every year, whereas COAL power is becoming more and more expensive.  Coal beds are becoming harder and harder to mine because the surface coal is nearly all taken.  Remaining coal beds are deep under ground and require more ENERGY and EXPENSE to extract that solid fuel.  Some coal that could be mined would be much HEAVIER in water content, thus require more energy to deliver across state lines (via diesel trains) and more energy to process and burn;
10.  Renewable Energy (solar, wind, hydro, biomass, etc) have now surpassed NUCLEAR in overall power generation for our country.  Nuclear power carries too much risk (and not just the financial kind, which is reason alone to dismiss it from future energy policy decisions) to be viable long-term;
11.  Solar generates more hours of clean power during summer ozone periods, thus reducing ozone levels;
12.  Solar is mainly a LOCAL ('distributed') power source.  Most or all of the power produced by solar equipment can and is being used onsite (or within one or two properties away), thus reducing ALL ratepayers from the need to add new distribution lines and transformers, and thereby reducing everyone's costs.  Local stakeholders (residents, be they homeowners or renters, and business owners) can invest in energy sources that are Local, Clean, Safe, and LESS EXPENSIVE (especially over time);
13.  Solar is a great motivator to reduce your power consumption through energy efficiency and energy conservation.

That's today's baker's dozen for benefits we ALL derive from solar, whether you own solar personally or not.  Hopefully, you will consider solar for your own home and business needs.

See this link for many, MANY more reasons to consider solar --  It is written by a well-known solar expert in Wisconsin.

More info?  Email Kurt at