understood how the sun’s power can be harnessed in 1839 when Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect¹. Over the past 40 years, solar power capacity has grown globally from less than one megawatt in 1975 to around 180 gigawatts by the end of 2014; an increase of around 45% year-on-year²! It would have been perhaps hard to imagine back in 1839 all the many benefits solar power could provide. But today, it would be hard to avoid acknowledging them. So, next time you are looking at your utility bill, remember our 10 irresistible reasons that will convince you to go solar.
Everyone can harness solar power!
Our sun is the world’s single most abundant source of energy, producing an outstanding 173,000 terawatts of solar energy every second. This amounts to more than 10,000 times of the world’s total combined energy use. And it is a resource that we have all access to³. What makes solar power particularly attractive is that energy can be generated even when it is not sunny. This is because today’s technology relies on daylight. So if you don’t live in an area which is always sunny, do not be put off from looking into solar power⁴!
Using solar power will save you money and reduce your utility bills
What gets most consumers excited about the prospect of solar energy is that is can save you a lot of money through reduced energy bills – or even make you some if you are producing more solar energy than you need! The exact amount of money that each household can save varies, depending on their energy consumption, the availability of tariff plans and support for installing solar technology and how much energy they generate.
Studies in the UK have indicated that the average family can save about £800 each year⁵!
Solar energy does not pollute the air we breathe
Solar energy reduces air pollution substantially, especially when compared to fossil fuels. Widespread adoption of solar energy could significantly reduce pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, and particulate matter, all of which can cause health and environmental problems. These air pollutants contribute to acid rain, but are also underlying causes of chronic bronchitis, respiratory and cardiovascular problems. It is estimated that installing 100 GW of solar capacity, 437 mortality cases would be reduced in addition to heart attacks and respiratory diseases⁶.
Deployment of renewable energy technologies, such as solar power, are key to combatting climate change
Solar panels can help reduce greenhouse gases. Recent studies indicate that a single solar module will only take about a year to generate more electricity than was used to manufacture it. So, that is one-year energy payback, and since solar panels now last 35 years, photovoltaic panels now save 34 years of emissions that would have come from gas or coal².
Solar energy is good for our wildlife
Solar energy is not just good from a climate or resource point of view – of course reduced greenhouse gas emissions are good for our ecosystems and making solar panels comes with a smaller environmental footprint. But having solar panels can be good for our nature in terms of encouraging greater biodiversity. There is evidence that farms that have solar panels can benefit our wildlife too! By integrating solar panels in the right way farms can continue providing us with food but also be a source of energy and biodiversity⁷.
Opting for solar energy helps conserve our natural resources
Producing solar energy panels comes at a lesser environmental cost, too. The environmental impacts of making solar panels are minimal, especially when compared to the environmental impact of fossil fuel energy. Compared with coal electricity, solar electricity uses 86% to 89% less water; it also uses 80% less land and is 95% lower in toxicity to humans; it also causes 92% to 97% less acid rain, and 97% to 98% less marine eutrophication, the cause of algal blooms³.
Installing solar power technologies is easy and possible in any home
Solar energy technology has become very versatile. Today, consumers and businesses can install traditional photovoltaic panels or integrate the panels in building materials, such as glass. This means that larger areas of buildings could be used to collect solar energy but also that this could be done in smaller spaces. What is more, in most cases no planning permission is needed for installing solar power technologies. So, installing them is just a phone call away!
Solar power will add value to your home
One of the lesser known reasons that installing solar power makes sense is that it increases the value of your home. This will come in handy if you are looking to sell or rent your property. There is already an increase in people’s demand for renewable energy technologies for their homes, so having such a system already installed is an asset. A study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California has showed that buyers were willing to pay an extra $15,000 for a home with an average-sized solar panel system⁸!
Solar energy systems are durable
One of the main assets of solar power technology is that it is durable and will not break- down easily. Solar panels, for example, have no moving parts and they are optimised to withstand tough weather conditions as well as surges in energy. This means that after the initial investment of purchasing and installing photovoltaic panels or other solar energy systems, you will be able to start seeing returns on your investment – in the form of reduced energy bills – without needing to spend more money. Solar technology is therefore relatively hassle-free and even if something where to happen, most solar panels come with a thirty-year warranty⁸!
Solar energy is a portable form of energy!
While most of us think of bulky photovoltaic panels when we think of solar energy, the reality is that technology is now able to make more lightweight and compactable solar panels. This means that we can now have solar energy on-the-go! There are plenty of products that use solar energy to help you recharge your phone or other electronic devices when you are outdoors without the need to find an electric plug. All you need is the sun!