When debating how we can reduce environmental pollution, solar energy is something that always comes up. Many say that it’s the most eco-friendly energy source currently available on the market and even a much cheaper alternative to fossil fuel. But is this indeed the case? Today, we will answer that question and more as we examine solar energy’s impact on the environment and local economies.
What is Solar Energy?
On the surface, the term solar energy seems very self-explanatory. It’s defined as the light and heat produced by the Sun and harnessed through a variety of means. One of the most common is solar architecture, such as solar panels. Solar panels take the light and heat and convert them into thermal or electric energy. This energy can be used to power a house, electrical appliances, provide heating, etc.
Since the whole world has constant, unlimited access to sunlight, it’s considered one of the cleanest, most sustainable energy sources. However, many detractors of solar energy fear that solar panels won’t work in cloudy or cold environments. This, luckily, isn’t the case.
No place in the world has warm weather and clear skies all year round. With this in mind, engineers build solar panels so that they can still harness sunlight even when they’re not directly exposed to it. The panels will indeed work less efficiently if placed directly in the shadow of a tree or a house. But that doesn’t change the fact that the solar panel will still keep harnessing energy even when there is no direct sunlight.
Is Solar Energy Good for the Environment?
One of the first things proponents of solar energy mention is how environmentally friendly it is. In this case, the claims are absolutely true.
Traditional electricity comes from fossil fuels and natural gas. The process of mining and extracting fossil fuels produces significant amounts of methane leakage and carbon dioxide. Both of these gasses heavily contribute to the greenhouse effect and are directly responsible for the rising global temperatures. What’s more, fossil fuels are a finite energy source. We can’t reliably depend on them in the long term since they are going to run out.
In contrast, solar energy doesn’t produce any harmful emissions. We don’t need intensive mining to harness it like we do with fossil fuel. Lastly, since we can’t run out of sunlight, we classify solar energy as an infinite energy source.
How Does Solar Energy Impact the Economy?
Another widespread belief about solar energy is that it’s too expensive for the average consumer. But this couldn’t be further from the truth!
Since fossil fuels are a finite energy source, their prices constantly fluctuate. As our supplies of oil and coal continue to dwindle, those prices are likely to go up.
Solar panels might seem pricey at first, but they actually help save money. A solar panel can produce more energy per day than the average family of four can consume. In the long term, this saves quite a lot of money on energy bills.
Refining and producing fossil fuels requires a lot of water too. Solar panels, in contrast, don’t need water for energy production at all. So if you live in an area with little water security, solar power is the way to go.
Lastly, solar energy benefits the economy overall. As many companies try to make more eco-friendly choices, they turn to solar energy to reduce their carbon footprint. As a result, the clean energy industry is growing rapidly. This growth creates more jobs for US citizens who are looking to transition out of the fossil fuel industry into something more sustainable.
Solar energy’s impact on the environment and local economies is overwhelmingly positive. It not only helps reduce pollution and greenhouse gasses but also helps you save money on energy bills. While switching to solar panels might seem expensive, ultimately, they’re the most sustainable choice you can make for your future.