Solar panels are great for a lot of reasons. They help lower the cost of energy, help the environment, there are solar incentives that help lower the cost of solar panels, and there are warranties that guarantee their performance.
Here are six reasons we are thankful for solar power.
The Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy
One of the more widely discussed benefits of solar panels is the environmental benefits of solar energy. Solar energy is an alternative to fossil fuels and can reduce the carbon footprint at home and abroad, reducing greenhouse gases around the world.
The majority of electricity that is generated in the United States is coming from fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gases. Extracting and using fossil fuels isn’t good for the environment. In contrast, solar power is going to be free and readily abundant. If it was possible to capture all of the solar energy that is radiating from the sun for a single hour it could provide solar power to the entire world for a single year.
The investment in solar energy can help reduce the reliance on fossil fuels and replace it with one of the most abundant, consistent sources of renewable energy that is available: our sun.
Here are a few ways that solar panels help our environment:
- Solar-powered systems reduce air pollution.
- Solar panel installations reduce water pollution.
- Solar power reduces the dependence on nonrenewable energy sources.
- Solar panels help fight climate change.
The Advancements that Have Been Made
The history of solar panels goes further back than most people think. When the first photovoltaic cells were invented, it set a change in motion for energy production. This change would go back hundreds of years. Listed below are some important years for solar energy.
1839 - The photovoltaic effect was first discovered. This effect allows people to get solar energy from the sun with certain materials.
1905 - Einstein publishes information on the photovoltaic cells. Einstein goes into further detail explaining how photovoltaic cells work. This allowed other scientists to better understand the photovoltaic cells and begin to use them.
1941 - The first solar cell was invented. Scientists now know that collecting solar energy on a large scale is a real possibility.
The 1950s & 60s - Solar panels powered space exploration. Solar panels helped astronauts as they began exploring the final frontier.
1954 - Bell Labs improved the efficiency of photovoltaic cells to 4%. The efficiency of a solar panel continued to improve over the next few decades, making solar panels a whole lot more affordable.
1979 - President Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar panels on the White House to heat water.
2006 - The solar investment tax credit (ITC) is enacted. The ITC helped the U.S. solar power industry to increase by more than 10,000%. Unfortunately, the ITC will begin to decrease in 2020, unless a change is made.
2016 - The U.S. hit 1 Million solar panel installations. It took the solar power industry 40 years to reach this milestone. In 2019, the number of solar panel installations in the U.S. surpassed 2 million.
The Cost of Solar Panels
In 1977, the cost of solar was $77 per watt. Now the cost of solar panels is as low as $0.21 per watt. The cost of solar power is now cheaper than nearly every fossil fuel option.
Depending on your location, a solar panel installation is probably cheaper than coal, diesel, and in most cases natural gas. If the pattern of cost reduction is any indication, it’s not going to be long before the cost of solar panels is lower than the cost of all fossil fuels.
If you are interested in lowering the cost of solar panels, solar incentives are just what you need. If you’re beginning your journey into the research of solar energy, you may not have heard about the solar incentives that are available to you. Some of the solar energy tax benefits available to homeowners will depend on where the homeowner lives.
One of the most beneficial solar incentives is going to be net metering. Net metering allows homeowners with solar-powered systems to receive bill credits for the excess solar energy that is being generated at a retail rate from their utility. It is important to remember that not all states have net metering.
Another solar energy tax benefit that is vital to homeowners is the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The ITC is making getting a solar panel installation even more appealing to homeowners throughout the United States. However, the ITC is set to drop from 30% to 26% at the start of 2020, so if you want to take advantage of the solar power ITC, you should sign up for a solar panel installation today!
Solar Energy Can Provide Power 24/7
A common misconception about solar energy is, your house can’t rely on solar power for all of its power needs, especially at night. This can be easily avoided with a residential storage system for solar power. Quite a few reputable companies have entered the energy storage realm. Between the new competition and new innovations, the cost of a solar storage system is more affordable than ever and expected to continue to drop. In 2019, homeowners will have the option to purchase solar-plus-storage systems and can be completely energy independent.
Solar Panel Warranties
The typical lifespan of solar panels is considered to be 25 years, after 25 years the solar panels will still work, but the solar panels will be less efficient.
Luckily, there are going to be a couple of different kinds of solar power warranties. Solar panels are going to have two different warranties, there are performance-based warranties and equipment based guarantees for solar panels. The performance-based warranties for solar panels are typically going to guarantee 90% production at 10 years and 80% at 25 years. An equipment warranty is normally going to guarantee 10-12 years without failing.
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