What is Solar Energy?

Solar energy uses the sun’s light and heat to generate renewable or ‘green’ power. The most common form of solar energy is harnessed by solar panels, or photovoltaic cells. In photovoltaic power stations, they’re arranged almost edge-to-edge to capture sunlight in large fields. You’ll also see them on top of houses and other buildings at times, as well. The cells are created from semiconductor materials. When the sun’s rays hit the cells, it loosens electrons from their atoms. This allows the electrons to flow through the cell and generate electricity.

On a much larger scale, solar collectors can generate power for thousands of people at once. Solar-thermal power plants use a variety of techniques to produce power using the sun. The sun’s energy is used to boil water which, in turn, operates a steam turbine to generate in a similar fashion to that of coal or nuclear power plants.

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The advantages of powering your home with solar energy are many, but we’ve narrowed the list down to the most important. Here are some advantages to switching your home or business to solar power.

01.

Lowers Your Electricity Bill

Reducing the monthly electric bill is a priority in most homes, and generating your own energy through the power of the sun is a simple way to reduce your electric bill.

Not only does solar power save money, but it can help you earn more. Some solar energy systems are candidates for state-level incentives, rebates, and federal tax credits. In order to qualify, the system must be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) or a similar service endorsed by your state government.[1] Because you’re choosing a safer, greener electricity option, the government will reward you with a tax cut helping you save money on installation.

02.

Environmentally Friendly

Solar energy has far fewer carbon emissions than the standard forms of non-green energy that heavily rely on fossil fuels. Greenhouse gas emissions are insignificant because solar power uses no fuel combustion. Each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of solar energy substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions like CO2 and other dangerous pollutants such as sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.[2] The more people who choose renewable energy, the cleaner our air will be.

03.

Moves Us Towards
Energy Independence

Limited resources like fossil fuels will one day run out and cannot be replaced, but the sun will keep on shining for another 5 billion years or so. Remaining independent will allow our renewable resources to grow as technology further develops and we find more ways to incorporate renewable energy into everyday life.

04.

Moves Us Towards Energy Independence

Limited resources like fossil fuels will one day run out and cannot be replaced, but the sun will keep on shining for another 5 billion years or so. Remaining independent will allow our renewable resources to grow as technology further develops and we find more ways to incorporate renewable energy into everyday life.

05.

Sustainable

Solar energy could be a stable resource for billions of years. It’s the most abundant energy resource on earth—173,000 terawatts of solar energy strikes the Earth continuously. That’s more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use.

06.

Low Maintenance

Most solar energy systems come with a very extended warranty—sometimes up to 25 years. Maintenance usually only requires an annual cleaning, and the solar PV and solar thermal parts will need to be changed out about every 10 years. There are no moving parts, so there’s less that could break down or go wrong. Since solar energy systems are easy to maintain, you won’t have to spend too many repairs. This also makes solar energy systems an attractive choice for people who might not be able to fix or maintain household appliances.

07.

Benefits the Electricity Grid

Because solar power puts less burden on the electric grid, some U.S. states offer net metering policies. Net metering policies allow those who generate solar power to sell excess electricity to a utility at a retail rate and receive credit on their utility bill. This credit offsets the customer’s electricity consumption during other times of the day or year, which reduces the amount of electricity you need to source (and pay for) from a utility.

08.

Benefits the Electricity Grid

Because solar power puts less burden on the electric grid, some U.S. states offer net metering policies. Net metering policies allow those who generate solar power to sell excess electricity to a utility at a retail rate and receive credit on their utility bill. This credit offsets the customer’s electricity consumption during other times of the day or year, which reduces the amount of electricity you need to source (and pay for) from a utility.

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Resources:

  1. Energy Star, Federal Tax Credits: Solar Energy Systems, Retrieved From: https://www.energystar.gov/about/federal_tax_credits/solar_energy_systems
  2. Energy.gov, Benefits of Residential Solar Energy, Retrieved From: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/benefits-residential-solar-electricity
  3. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Energy on a Sphere, Retrieved From:
  4. National Conference of State Legislature, 11/20/2017, State Net Metering Policies, Retrieved From: http://www.ncsl.org/research/energy/net-metering-policy-overview-and-state-legislative-updates.aspx
  5. U.S. Energy Information Administration, 12/28/2017, Solar Eclipse on August 21 will Affect Photovoltaic Generators Across the Country, Retrieved From: https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=34312
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