Solar panels are a popular feature on homes around the world today. A U.S. Department of Energy study revealed that the number of residential systems in use rose from 30,000 in 2006 to 1.3 million a decade later. Predictions were made that the total number around the country could increase to 3.8 million by the end of this year.
There are two main attractions to renewable energy. One is the environmental benefits. It’s cleaner to use and sustainable. The second is the financial savings. Homeowners have discovered that a solar system can reduce or eliminate their reliance on the grid. They pay less to utility companies without sacrificing modern conveniences.
Many now believe that solar technology is the way of the future. The following list highlights 5 ways that your solar panels will help protect the natural environment.
- Solar Panels Do Not Require Water to Generate Energy
A thermal power plant uses steam to turn turbines and generate energy. During this process, the steam temperature drops. To increase it again, the steam must condense back to water to absorb heat. The liquid used to complete this cycle is drawn from lakes, rivers, or the sea. Once it returns to a lower temperature, it is released back into the waterway.
A team of electricians from Hobart estimate the amount of water required to run an average nuclear power plant is approximately 30 million gallons per hour or the same amount consumed by a city of 5 million people.
Generating energy using thermal power can result in thermal pollution, a process that degrades water quality by changing its temperature. Most marine animals survive in a specific temperature range. These manmade shifts can make habitats uninhabitable for native species.
Solar panels do not need water to work. The only resource they require is light from the sun.
- The Sun is Our Most Powerful Energy Source
The sun is one of our most valuable resources, and we don’t yet utilize it to its fullest potential. Our star releases more energy in a single hour than all of mankind consumes in a year. It can easily keep up with demand.
Fossil fuels, on the other hand, use materials that were created over millions of years. In terms of the life of the planet, we have only recently begun consuming this resource. The problem is that in just 200 years, we have used them at a high rate. If we don’t slow down, estimates indicate that we could run out by 2060.
Stars do not last forever, however, the sun is essentially limitless by human standards. It is believed that the sun will burn for another five billion years before it begins to fade. Using solar panels doesn’t impact the lifespan of the energy source while consuming fossil fuels does.
- Eliminating Fossil Fuels Improves Air Quality
Air pollution is a problem for all living things on Earth. It can cause respiratory disease and even cancer in humans. Most of our air pollution is generated by burning oil, gasoline, coal, and natural gas.
Solar panels are clean to use. They do not produce air pollution. If enough people switch to renewable energy, it can have a strong positive effect on the air quality in the region. This is especially true if people begin driving electric cars that are charged using solar power.
- Solar Panels Do Not Emit Greenhouse Gases
Carbon emissions are another big concern today. NASA published a line graph that shows how carbon dioxide levels have fluctuated on the planet. While there have been upward and downward trends in the past, these typically stayed below 300 parts per million.
After 1950, the data shows a sharp upward motion that hasn’t shifted back down. We are currently at over 400 parts per million, well above the original high end.
This problem occurs as more greenhouse gasses escape into the atmosphere. They absorb and emit outgoing energy from the planet’s surface, trapping heat. Solar panels generate electricity without emitting greenhouse gases.
- Your Solar Panels Won’t Produce Radioactive Waste
Nuclear power plants generate waste that must go somewhere. The radioactivity will eventually decay, but the process takes between 1,000 and 10,000 years. Materials are usually encased in stainless steel containers and buried deep under the Earth’s surface in a government-approved site.
Finding a suitable location to keep radioactive waste is not easy. Minimizing the amount of storage needed is the best approach. There are currently over 29,000 tons of spent fuel rods hidden away around the world.
Solar panels do not produce radioactive waste. They can also reduce your reliance on nuclear power plants that generate this hazardous byproduct.
There are many good reasons to give solar panels a try. Contact a professional today to learn more about how renewable energy can help the planet.