Whether you’re a longtime beneficiary of solar panels, someone interested in obtaining solar power, or even just an average citizen who has read about solar power generation in the past, chances are its environmental benefits have been one of the top talking points you’re exposed to. This is with good reason: Solar power is enormously beneficial to the sustainability movement, helping move huge chunks of society away from dependence on finite resources and toward clean, renewable energy sources. At the same time, while most people understand broadly that solar power is good for the environment, fewer know exactly why this is the case.
At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we’re here to not only provide both commercial and residential solar panel installations, including the use of the Tesla Powerwall, but also to offer expertise and hard facts on the numerous ways our solar panels benefit both you and the environment around you. What are some of the specific themes we inform clients of when they ask about the ways solar power benefits the environment, and how can you maximize these through the use of solar panel installation? Here’s a primer.
Perhaps the single greatest specific benefit of solar power for the globe: The way it reduces the levels to which we depend on various finite, non-renewable resources in our lives. From coal and natural gas to oil and several other fossil fuels, these are not endless resources – they will eventually run out, and consequences to our society if we’re still depending on them will be massive. In addition, the production methods involved with these fossil fuels, from the mining and drilling processes to transportation and eventual burning of these fuels, releases harmful pollutants into the atmosphere while continuing to waste energy.
Solar power, on the other hand, is entirely renewable and is not finite at all. Continuing to increase the levels to which we utilize these forms of power will accomplish two simultaneous missions: Lowering our dependence on finite resources while also limiting the huge amounts of power and energy needed to properly mine and disperse them. Not only will further reliance on solar power and related forms of renewable energy limit the impact on our various systems once finite forms of energy run out, this theme will also decrease the active pollutants and other harmful particles we put into the air while we extract these finite resources from the earth.
We touched on this above, but we wanted to go a bit deeper on it to be sure there’s full understanding. One of the main climate issues that we talk about when it comes to preserving the environment is global warming, and one of the top contributors to global warming is greenhouse gasses – or pollutants and excess carbon dioxide, or CO2, found in the atmosphere.
The more carbon that builds up in the atmosphere, the greater the quantity of heat that will be trapped inside. This heat is the primary cause of global warming, and continues to worsen with each passing year as human society pumps more and more of these greenhouse gasses into the air. In fact, over a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the world come directly from electricity usage in homes and various other building types.
But with solar energy, there is no release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when electricity is being generated. This is different from all other traditional generation methods, and even different from natural gases. Solar power allows for both homes and commercial buildings to greatly reduce their carbon footprint, sending far less carbon into the atmosphere and slowly but surely limiting the increases we see to global temperatures.
Another major resource that’s immensely valuable around the globe is water, but it’s also scarce in some areas – a fact that leads to dangerous conditions. Dry areas of the world are already experiencing issues with fresh water access, concerns that are only heightened by the progression of global warming and other related forms of environmental decay.
And as you may have guessed, or as some are already well aware, normal forms of electrical generation involve massive amounts of water wasted. It takes thousands upon thousands of gallons of water to cool generators and process and refine fuel within a standard energy plant, and other forms of energy like hydropower and nuclear energy require massive water amounts, often from dams, to generate their electricity – this also damages the surrounding ecosystem in many cases.
Solar panels, however, require no additional water to provide energy. They take the energy from the sun and convert it, limiting the strain on water sources. If the entire United States moved over solely to solar power, the water quantity saved in electricity generation would serve over a million homes.
Finally, as we touched on briefly above, the pollution created by the extraction and production of fossil fuels is massive and enormously harmful to the environment. Frankly, those in Utah see the results of this pollution all the time, as do those in other states with mountains: The smog often hovering over the Salt Lake Valley is direct evidence of the way air pollution can get trapped into a given area, making it hard to breathe and increasing the risk of conditions like asthma, allergies, pneumonia, and even major risks like cancer or heart attack while also harming the environment.
Again, solar panels create none of these pollutants. If we were able to transition fully to solar power over the next decade, the impact on air quality would be immense.
For more specifics on the environmental impact of solar panel installation, or to learn about any of our solar power services, speak to the staff at Intermountain Wind & Solar today.
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