Feature

The benefits of solar energy


Chris Leaman

Chris Leaman explains the benefits of using modern solar power systems for homes and businesses across the US.

Solar energy is one of America’s fastest growing industries. Everyone from consumers, businesses, schools, military branches, and homeowners have the opportunity to benefit from the use of solar energy. This expanding and renewable resource allows us to create clean energy and has potential to be the largest energy source and the largest industry in the world.

In fact, the solar industry currently employs more Americans than Apple, Google, Facebook, and Twitter combined. In 2014 alone, the solar industry created roughly 31,000 jobs in the United States. Solar energy is not only making waves by being an affordable, energy efficient resource, but by also creating a better economy for the United States. Actually, the solar industry contributes to $18 billion each year to the US Economy.

The growth of solar energy is coming at a time where home and business owners are looking for financial independence from high priced utility companies. These companies are charging more and more for electricity, which is making monthly expenses soar. With solar energy, people can escape big companies and have the security of creating their own natural energy. Solar energy often creates more energy than a home or business needs. In this case, solar owners can sell the unused energy back to electricity companies for credit or for profit.

Incentives worth thousands of dollars

Each state has different financial benefits and regulations when it comes to solar installations, usage, and energy sellbacks. Many states offer financial support for homeowners who are looking to install solar. In Pennsylvania, homes and business are eligible to receive a federal tax credit of up to 30% of the installed system cost with no cap limit. Payments like these are worth thousands of dollars each year.

By providing incentives, states are ensuring that solar energy is an opportunity that anyone can make. Solar energy is one of the most affordable and cost effective methods of energy available. Since 2009, the cost of solar has significantly dropped making it one of the most energy efficient resources in the world. In reality, solar energy is widely popular across the globe.

Many famous structures and cities have installed solar energy systems. Vatican City spent $660 million installing solar panels in order to power the 40,000 houses, buildings, and landmarks found there. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai installed close to 378 solar collectors that help to save over 3200kW each day. Other landmarks like the Taj Mahal in India and the Eiffel Tower in Paris are internationally known landmarks that use solar to save money and to improve the environment. Even here at home in the United States, the White House installed small solar panels in 2013 that can generate around 16kW per day.

But is it affordable?

Yes. We’ve already said that over the last few years, solar has become one of the most affordable resources in the country, and possibly even the world. Each year, the Earth is hit with over 8 million quads of solar energy.

Currently, we are only using 400 of those quads worldwide. It would take less than 0.0005% of the Earth to be covered with solar energy systems to power the entire planet. The United States current solar capacity is approximately 20,000MW, which could power nearly 2 million homes and businesses.

Installing solar energy can seem like a costly expense at first, but when compared to how much it saves in the long run, an initial upfront cost seems more than reasonable. On average, it takes 9 years to see a payback on residential solar powered systems, but the savings on monthly electric expenses are instant.

The future

It’s predicted that within the next year:

  • 40,000MW of solar energy will power 8 million American homes;
  • The solar market sectors will grow by 25-50%; and
  • 45 million metric tons of harmful carbon emissions will be offset by the use of solar energy.

It’s clear the solar industry is expanding and creating a more affordable and a more environmental community within the United States, and beyond. It takes only a fraction of the Earth to be covered with solar panels to create enough energy globally, and increase the power, affordability, and expansion of solar energy worldwide.

Installing a solar PV system to any home or business can do wonders for any home or business owner - and this infographic from JK Mechanical lays out the benefits and costs of installing a solar energy system and what to expect when working with certified and professional solar installers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chris Leaman is the owner and vice president of JK Mechanical.


 

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity

 

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