Choose A Solar Energy Plan With Green Mountain Energy
When you choose a 100% solar energy plan with us, you can help build a cleaner and greener future for your community and the planet. We have several solar energy plans that can meet your electricity needs without installing a single solar panel, plus green tools and add-ons that help you reduce your carbon footprint even further. And if you want to install a rooftop solar system on your home, we can help you do that, too.
We make it simple to choose 100% clean electricity made from renewable sources like solar energy. Lets build a cleaner, greener tomorrow together.
What Are The Real Advantages Of Solar Energy For Earth Then
Despite the costs of producing solar panels, according to one study, after 5.23 years of generating electricity, they will make up for the energy used to produce the system itself. Moreover, solar panels have their financial payback within 15.3 to 34.4 years, depending on the rate of renewable energy feed-in-tariff applied.
In addition,electricity production by photovoltaic solar panels is more sustainable than electricity powered by fossil fuels. Though these calculations depend on the region of manufacturing since, for instance, the carbon footprint of a panel produced in China can be up to twice as big compared to panels produced in Europe.
Solar PV technologies and Solar plants are small and can be used anywhere in the world with relatively low operation and maintenance costs compared to the huge fossil fuel ones. Regarding the problems around the solar panel’s end of life, as the industry grows recycling sites will grow too and current industry players will likely feel encouraged to find new solutions to improve the efficiency of their operations. New industries will spawn up who would come up with more innovative solutions to recycle the solar panels. Another good news is that some minerals, like aluminum, lead, and copper require less energy to be recycled when compared to primary extraction.
To learn more, you can see the following video about how solar panels are manufactured.
What Is Solar Energy
Solar energy is that produced by the Suns light photovoltaic energy and its warmth solar thermal for the generation of electricity or the production of heat. Inexhaustible and renewable, since it comes from the Sun, solar energy is harnessed using panels and mirrors.
cells convert sunlight directly into electricity by the so-called photovoltaic effect, by which certain materials are able to absorb photons and liberate electrons, generating an electric current. On the other hand, solar thermal collectors use panels or mirrors to absorb and concentrate the Suns heat, transferring it to a fluid and conducting it through pipes to use it in buildings and installations, and also for electricity production .
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Is Solar A Green And Clean Form Of Energy
Because they emit zero greenhouse gases, solar energy systems are clean in their production of electricity, but studying the entire life cycle of solar panels shows them to be less clean. How green solar energy is involves looking into areas beyond greenhouse gas emissions to the larger environmental impact in areas such as air pollution, toxic waste, and other factors. No energy production is completely clean or green, but when comparing the life cycle impact of all sources of power, solar is among the cleanest and greenest.
According to life-cycle assessment research conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a solar power plant emits roughly 40 grams of carbon dioxide for each kilowatt-hour of energy produced. By contrast, a coal plant produces roughly 1,000 grams of carbon dioxide per kWh. Most importantly, while 98% of coal’s emissions came from hard-to-abate operational processes , while 60-70% of solar’s emissions come in upstream processes like raw materials extraction and module manufacture, which are easier to mitigate. The same applies to wider environmental impacts, such as the use of hazardous materials and toxic chemicals in both the production and disposal of solar panels, which can be mitigated by recycling, waste minimization programs, and changes in the manufacturing process, such as the use of cleaner sources of energy used to produce the panels.
Solar Energy Is Sustainable
As the global population continues to grow, these resources will soon be gone. As energy is harnessed from the sun, a solar system power source is limitless as long as the sun exists.
This reduces the strain on finite resources like coal, oil, and natural gas, which are contributing to global warming.
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Is Solar Energy Clean
No energy source is entirely clean , but solar power is about as clean as it gets. Unlike fossil fuels, producing electricity from the suns rays releases no harmful substances. There are no carbon emissions and pollutants, nothing that harms the environment locally or globally when the suns power is harnessed for energy.
However, the photovoltaic panels that convert light to electricity have to be manufactured. This uses energy and raw materials, and some of the processes used produce harmful byproducts. A notable example of these byproducts is the silicon tetrachloride that results when polysilicon is made from metallurgical-grade silicon. If dumped, this will mix with water and produce hydrochloric acid acidifying the ground and emitting harmful gasses.
The technology is there to recycle and render harmless such waste, but not all manufacturers are prepared to invest in the costly equipment. Better laws, incentives and regulations can help eliminate this problem.
Of course, while this is the case, solar energy is still so much greener and clean than non-renewable energy sources. This makes it one of the best choices for clean, renewable energy. Its also highly likely that we can make the process entirely green in the not-too-distant future.
Curiosities About Solar Energy
Use of solar energy is near a solution. This was the headline in the New York Times on 4 April 1931. It turned out to be a premonition, since, 80 years later and electricity is being supplied to millions of human beings in the world from renewable energies such as solar. Humanity has now declared its readiness to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy, conscious of the finite nature of fossil fuels and their prejudicial effects on the environment as the main cause of global warming.
As the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda chimed in El Sol: I am a man of light, of so much rose, such predestined clarity, I will die from shining.
Solar energy, on the other hand, will never die of shining, since the Sun still has 6.5 billion years of life according to NASA. Indeed, in rather less time, solar technology in some countries has evolved to compete with conventional sources of electricity generation. In just a few decades time, it will become the major part of a sustainable energy system for the world.
Additionally, the conditions for the development of solar energy could not be more perfect: the Sun bathes the Earth hourly with enough light and heat to fulfill global needs for a whole year in other words, solar radiation can satisfy our energy needs 4,000 times over.
As the publication Renewable Energies Info estimates, the Earths surface receives 120,000 Terawatts of solar irradiation, which represents 20,000 times more power than the whole planet needs.
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Where Utah Stands In The Solar Department
Utah is a great place for solar, but it may not always be if we arent doing our part to make sure solar policy is favorable. There are a couple of changes in the works that could affect future solar installations.
Utah Solar News: Solar Development and Tax Credit Extension
Looking into what makes solar green coincides with what makes solar affordable. Right now the major contributors to solar affordability are the federal and state tax credits. Together, these cover a little over 30 percent of your total system cost.
Utah Solar Development
The newest development on the federal tax credit is John Knotwells proposal to amend Utahs Energy Resource Procurement Act. He proposed that Rocky Mountain Power be allowed to use the 30 percent federal tax credit for their projects.
With Rocky Mountains recent actions against the solar industry still fresh on our mind, caution should be applied. Utah Clean Energy is working to make sure that this bill still allows for competition within the solar industry.
State of Utah Tax Credit Changes
As a result of the metering settlement, a tax credit extension is being proposed. The proposal asks that the state tax credit freeze at $1,600 until 2020, and then phase out by 2024.
How Can We Make Solar Panels Sustainable
For the recycling of solar panels to be successful, materials used to build them must still be usable at the end of their life, decades later.
While it may be more straightforward for materials such as metal and wiring, silicon needs specialty solutions that might need to melt it down.
Glass also sometimes leads to impurities, such as cadmium, antimony, and lead.
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Solar Energy Does Not Have To Be Transported By Vehicles
Have you ever seen a large truck carrying gasoline driving down the interstate? This is because, many times, fossil fuels have to be transported across the country. Once we consider this factor, we understand that fossil fuels have a negative impact on the earth in more ways than one. Fossil fuels create air pollution when we extract them, as we transport them, and as we use them to create energy. Solar energy does not have to be extracted, transported in gas-powered vehicles, and does not release carbon emissions when utilized in our homes.
Just How Renewable Is Solar Energy Examining This Clean Power Source
In any given hour, the sun sends down enough energy in the form of to power our entire planet for a whole year.1 And since NASA expects the sun to be around for another 4.5 billion years, Earth will enjoy plenty of sunlight for a long, long, long time.
Because solar can quickly be regenerated and is literally always available without needing eons of production time , solar energy is renewable by every possible traditional definition. In fact, its the fastest growing renewable energy source in the market today in terms of acceptance, technology, and electricity generating capacity.2
However, some environmental and sustainability advocates express concerns about the expansion of the solar power industry. Specifically, they have issues with the materials and processes involved in the creation of the solar panel technology used to generate electricity.
Our goal with this article is to make the case that solar power truly is renewable energy by facing those constructive criticisms head-on. Because if were going to combat climate change, decrease global warming, and reduce our carbon footprint by decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels, the solar industry has to be a committed leader.
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Why Is Solar Energy Bad
Its not very respectful to say solar energy is bad, at least not when compared with other types of energies powered by fossil fuels. Still, it has some downsides that are worth analyzing. We can start by clearing out that solar energy is not zero emissions, clean, or 100% green. But why is that if solar panels receive sun rays and generate electricity through heating without releasing any CO2 or CO2eq? Well, if we take a closer look at solar panels life cycles well realize that they make some pollution and energy consumption during manufacturing and are likely to have more once they get disposed.
Producing photovoltaic panels requires minerals like copper, nickel, and cadmium. For instance, if we think of silver, its supply and demand for photovoltaic purposes are, respectively, ~ 27 billion kg and 242 million kg . Other minerals such as lithium or silicon are also at risk of having a demand that outstrips supply today and in the future.
What Is The Green Energy Premium For Then
If youre with a green energy supplier like Just Energy, you will pay a very small premium to buy green energy productsthis is often akin to the price of a coffee a week or a movie ticket in most markets. This cost contributes to green energy projects, such as the development and maintenance of solar fieldsso that we can move towards a cleaner, greener future together. As this movement gains more traction and funding, less of the energy that we consume will be produced by conventional methods which are unsustainable, contribute to air pollution, worsen global warming, and harm the environment.
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What Is Renewable Energy
Renewable energy, often referred to as clean energy, comes from natural sources or processes that are constantly replenished. For example, sunlight or wind keep shining and blowing, even if their availability depends on time and weather.
While renewable energy is often thought of as a new technology, harnessing natures power has long been used for heating, transportation, lighting, and more. Wind has powered boats to sail the seas and windmills to grind grain. The sun has provided warmth during the day and helped kindle fires to last into the evening. But over the past 500 years or so, humans increasingly turned to cheaper, dirtier energy sources such as coal and fracked gas.
Now that we have increasingly innovative and less-expensive ways to capture and retain wind and solar energy, renewables are becoming a more important power source, accounting for more than one-eighth of U.S. generation. The expansion in renewables is also happening at scales large and small, from rooftop solar panels on homes that can sell power back to the grid to giant offshore wind farms. Even some entire rural communities rely on renewable energy for heating and lighting.
As renewable use continues to grow, a key goal will be to modernize Americas electricity grid, making it smarter, more secure, and better integrated across regions.
Batteries For Solar Panels
Alongside these drawbacks of solar power, theres also the issue of batteries.
High efficiency storage batteries are needed to enable countries with low sunlight hours to store solar energy theyve collected for later.
Batteries containing a number of chemicals, lithium, zinc , manganese and potassium which all need to be mined.
This is where the environmental impact of solar power starts to get hazy.
While we are a long way from being completely powered by clean energy sources, we have certainly made significant progress over the past decade, specifically since the 2016 Paris Agreement.
But we must tread carefully. Its important to weigh up the advantages of solar energy whilst acknowledging the potential negatives of solar power and its impact on the environment.
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Architecture And Urban Planning
Sunlight has influenced building design since the beginning of architectural history. Advanced solar architecture and urban planning methods were first employed by the Greeks and Chinese, who oriented their buildings toward the south to provide light and warmth.
The common features of passive solar architecture are orientation relative to the Sun, compact proportion , selective shading and thermal mass. When these features are tailored to the local climate and environment, they can produce well-lit spaces that stay in a comfortable temperature range. Socrates‘ Megaron House is a classic example of passive solar design. The most recent approaches to solar design use computer modeling tying together solar lighting, heating and ventilation systems in an integrated solar design package.Active solar equipment such as pumps, fans, and switchable windows can complement passive design and improve system performance.
How Sustainable Is Solar Energy
Measuring how sustainable solar energy is means using a life-cycle assessment for all of its environmental impacts. What is the effect of solar power plants on land-use patterns and habitat loss? How much fresh water is used in the production of solar panels? What is the source of the energy used to produce solar panels, and how much greenhouse gas do they emit? How are the raw materials extracted, and how renewable or recyclable are those materials? And perhaps most importantly, how do all those assessments compare to the alternatives? For example, it may be more sustainable to produce solar panels in an area of the world with low levels of solar insolation and install them in areas where lots of the sun’s energy reaches Earth , unless each of those areas contain fragile ecosystems or the transportation of materials halfway around the world involves burning more fossil fuels than the panels replace.
It’s worth remembering that all energy on Earth comes from the sun. Ideally, the most sustainable use of that energy is the one that is most efficient at converting the sun’s energy to usable final energy with the least environmental impact. While fossil fuels are energy-dense, they do not contain a lot of solar energy that plants converted using photosynthesis during the Carboniferous period. This makes them far and away the least efficient source of energy, independent from their environmental impact.
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Solar Power Can Use Underutilised Land
You may continue to wonder why solar power. With the increasing need of solar energy, its become easily accessible to most of us. Across countries, there are vast land that are far away from big cities or capitals, and are not used for anything at all.
With solar power, we can actually make use of the land and subsequently generate great value solar energy provides a source of power for everyone. In this way, we dont need to use high priced land that might be better suited for other applications.
You might have heard of solar farms – panels used to harvest solar energy in large numbers. This highlights perfectly how solar power makes use of underutilised land. For instance, a 45 acre solar farm has been recently built in the UK, and its able to power 2,500 homes.