It’s no secret that two major selling points of switching to a solar powered lifestyle are 1) savings on your utility bills and 2) reducing your carbon footprint. Regardless of the reason you’re choosing to go solar, one thing is for sure: by enjoying these benefits of solar energy, you’re helping preserve the environment and encouraging global sustainability, one ton of CO2 at a time.
Let’s put the environmental benefits of solar panels into an easy-to-understand perspective:
- • 135 — the amount in tons of CO2 avoided
- • 440,000 — the equivalent of miles NOT driven
- • 2.3 acres — equivalent area of trees planted
These facts are based on a typical 4kW solar panel system installed on your home, over a 25-year period. As you can see, the advantages of solar energy are real, measurable and affect everyone on the planet.
Environmental Benefits & Impact of Solar Powered Solutions
Solar powered systems significantly reduce the amount of electricity drawn from fossil fuels (such as coal and natural gas) by providing your home with clean, renewable energy harnessed from the sun.
After installing a solar panel system on your home, you drastically diminish the total amount of energy your utility company once needed to produce to supply your home’s energy demand. The advantages of solar panels are social and cumulative. The more people see their neighbors, friends and family using solar, the more likely they are to convert to become solar energy users themselves — which means less fossil fuel consumption, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and a safer and smarter planet.
As reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), world energy-related carbon dioxide emissions totaled 30.2 billion metrics tons (mT) in 2008. Emissions are expected to grow, topping 35.2 billion mT in 2020 and as high as 43.2 billion mT in 2035. This should be a huge cause for concern, potentially expanding 16% over the next 22 years.
In retrospect, solar energy and panels emit no carbon dioxide emissions, providing your home with clean power. As each day passes, solar manufacturers employ greener methods and practices, which drastically reduce the amount of electricity and resources used to create the solar materials and products used on your residence and compounding the advantages of solar panels.
The Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emission Estimates
Let’s take a look at carbon dioxide emissions of our two most common non-renewable energy sources, and compare them to solar:
- • Coal: Can range anywhere from 800 to 1250 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour (gCO2eq/kWh)
- • Natural Gas: Can range anywhere from 360 to 575 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour (gCO2eq/kWh)
- • Solar (Photovoltaic): Can range anywhere from 43 to 73 grams of C02 per kilowatt hour (gCO2eq/kWh)
What can be taken away from these stats and chart?
- • Natural gas contributes over 7 times the amount of CO2 emissions relative to solar energy
- • Coal contributes over 16 times the amount of CO2 emissions relative to solar energy
Clearly, the advantages of solar energy are undisputable when you compare it to fossil fuel use.
Share the Benefits of Solar Energy
Solar power has come a long way in the past decade. It’s now more efficient than ever, and something the average U.S. household can absolutely afford to invest in. In fact, as a society we can’t afford NOT to invest in solar! Help us spread the word about the advantages of solar by sharing the following infographic (scroll to the bottom of the page to copy HTML code that you can paste right onto your site.)
Statistics and data provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)