Home Solar Power – the benefits
Home solar power is one of the fastest growing sectors in the United States economy. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Solar energy in the United States is booming and growing at a record pace.
The Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC)
Since introducing the tax credit for solar investment in 2006, solar power has really taken off as the go-to source for home electric power. With an annual growth rate over the last decade of around 60%, and the figure set to continue rising, year over year. With tax credits due to continue at least until 2021, the switch from the traditional electric grid to free solar energy is set to continue unabated.
Solar Industry Research Data
Drop in solar installation prices
In the early days of the industry, the cost of installing solar panels on an average home was relatively high. This cost has dropped more than 70% since 2010, with the industry expanding and continuously moving into new markets. The opportunity for saving on electricity bills has never been better.
Solar energy has risen to the top of the list
Traditional fossil fuels have risen in price so drastically over the last decade, that the search for alternative technologies has become an absolute priority world-wide. Of all the economical options, Solar has risen to the top of the rankings list. From just 0.1% of the total U.S. electric generation in 2010, Solar has risen to 2% by 2017, with 1,748,000 systems installed.
The sound of silence
Electricity is what powers your home. True you may have gas appliances, such as a stove and cooker, but when the current turns off, nothing works. Think back to that last outage. The deafening ‘sound of silence’ suddenly had real meaning, and the light of a candle had never seemed more welcome. That’s if you could find a box of matches somewhere!
We are so accustomed to life in a world that depends on electricity that we don’t give it much of a thought, but it should really be the priority in our homes.
So, where does solar come in?
Take a look at your monthly electricity bill and compare it to last year’s amount. Notice how year on year the rates for your utilities get higher and higher? Once you know what your energy costs amount to, you will have a good idea of the savings that home solar power will bring.
Remember that with home solar power you can even reduce your electricity bill to zero with a properly designed system.
Your current electricity bill is the largest factor in determining how much you’ll save by installing solar. You pay your utility company for every kilowatt-hour unit (kWh) of electricity you draw from the grid. This rate varies can vary by a large amount based on where you live, and whom your supplier is.
When you install solar, your supplier becomes the sun! A source of inexhaustible, perfectly clean, and completely renewable energy, and the rate never goes up!
Is home solar power the only practical alternative to fossil fuels?
The other main renewable energy source is wind power. Wind turbines are making an important contribution to alternative energy production, through large scale wind fields. Whether they will become practical in powering individual homes, though, is debatable.
The way wind turbines generate electricity is quite different to solar panels. Solar panels generate power using solar-powered photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert the sun’s rays into electricity. As the sunlight falls on the PV cells, it causes a flow of electrons from cell to cell. This flow of electric current moves through your home grid, supplying the power to run your home.
- Unlike solar home power, wind turbines have moving parts which require specialized ongoing maintenance.
Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
- Wind systems generally carry a much shorter warranty than solar systems due to their complexity.
- Due to their construction, there is constant noise from the system, which can be an issue in built-up areas.
- Home solar power is silent
- Wind turbines need to be high to catch the wind and work efficiently, making them unsightly.
- Solar systems hug the roof and the new slim panels are quite attractive
- The wind turbines must comply with local planning and building regulations, and approval may be prevented by neighbors objecting on the grounds of height and appearance.
- They need to be clear of any low-lying obstructions which can diminish their effectiveness.
In general, wind systems are more practical in the massive large scale wind-farms, which are often situated off-shore, delivering power over a long range.
Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm in the North Sea off the coast of Cromer, England
Benefiting the National Economy
With over a quarter of a million Americans employed in the Solar industry, it has become a real power-house for the US economy. This number is more than double the number working in the solar industry six years ago, and more than 9,000 companies are actively involved in the industry in every state.
A recent article in Fortune magazine, pointed out that “Solar and wind projects made up roughly 62% of new power construction in 2017, as their cost continues to plummet. And 2.9 gigawatts of new renewable energy projects were initiated last year, while 12.5 gigawatts worth of coal plants are set to shut down in 2018 – also part of an accelerating trend. Thanks to that shift, the solar and wind industries are creating jobs faster than the rest of the economy.”
Renewable energy continues to grow in volume and capacity
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), published figures in January 2018 showing that nearly half of all utility-scale energy capacity installed in 2017 came from renewable sources.
The future looks bright
With the clean, green, renewable energy sources rapidly taking over from coal, oil, and natural gas, the benefit to the environment seems assured.
The big plus is that individual home owners can now benefit directly from this by switching to home solar power. With costs of solar installations plummeting and savings climbing, the time to change is now!