Solar Power and Health
- Solar power is one of the cleanest, most sustainable, and most renewable resources in the world.
- Apart from the pollution given off during panel manufacturing, solar power produces no pollution, which is a by-product of non-renewable energy consumption and one of the biggest global killers.3 Pollution affects as many people as HIV or malaria and has serious effects on children, older adults, and all living plants and animals.
- Solar power does not create any noise pollution; solar panels silently create energy from the sun’s rays.
- Coal plants are the largest producers of carbon emissions, which contribute to global warming. Oil hurts the planet too. Each year in America alone, over one million gallons of petroleum spill into waterways, oceans, and groundwater. That’s why solar power is so important—it can reduce pollution and harm to the environment.
- A household rooftop solar panel system can reduce pollution by 100 tons of CO2 carbon dioxide in its lifetime—and this includes the energy it took to manufacture the solar panels.4 Solar panels can improve future air quality for humans as well as the millions of birds, fish, and mammals that are negatively affected by pollution each year.
Solar Power Cost and Affordability
- The cost of solar panels has dropped by 80% since 2008,5 and it is expected to keep falling.
- As of 2016, the average cost of solar energy alone was about $0.12 per kilowatt,6 which is fairly cheap compared to other energy sources.
- Solar cells are priced per watt. In 1977, solar cells were unaffordable for most to purchase and install—costing around $77 per watt!7
- Solar installation often ranges from $2.87 to $3.85 per watt. The entire installation package cost averages around $16,800, but if you apply tax credits, the total installation will probably sit between $10,045 and $13,475.8
- Solar power itself is a free source of energy. Once you’ve installed photovoltaic (PV) panels on your home, maintenance is minimal and returns are high.
- You don’t have to buy your solar panels outright; you can rent or finance This makes solar power more affordable for everyone.
- Most solar panels have a 25-year warranty, and if you rent or lease, most companies provide free maintenance.
- Many states allow you to sell the excess solar energy you produce, meaning you can not only earn back the cost of your panels but also make a profit on energy in the long run.
- Many states have incentive programs like rebates and coupons for solar panel installation. These programs are meant to encourage people to switch to more sustainable energy production. Policies vary by state, so find out what’s offered in yours when considering solar for your home.
- It takes the average homeowner six to fifteen years to pay off their solar panels;9 those living in sunnier climates or states with good incentive programs can do it in as little as two years.
- The average monthly electricity bill in America is about $110, as of 2013.10 Annually, we spend over $1,300 per household just on electricity. Depending on how much energy your solar panels produce (and how much you consume), your system could pay for itself—and your electricity bill—in a matter of years.
- Solar panels are exempt from property taxes in many states and can increase the value of a home more than a complete kitchen remodel. However, you can take your solar panels with you when you move.
- When you buy solar panels, you’re eligible for a 30% tax break from the federal government—you could get thousands of dollars back on your taxes and offset the initial cost.11
Solar Power Availability and Growth
- Until the sun fizzles out, solar power will continue to be a very reliable energy source; our ability to harvest solar power is solely dependent on technology, location, cost, and legislation.
- At the moment, the state is actually producing more solar energy than it has the infrastructure to consume.
- According to data from 2016, California generates the most solar power in America, followed by North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, and Utah.12
- Las Vegas, Nevada is the biggest city in the country to operate on 100% renewable resources.
- Pollution can obscure the sun’s rays and stop light from reaching the Earth. Theoretically, the more humans who switch over to solar power and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the greater the Earth’s capacity to harness solar energy. It takes a village, right?
- Burlington, Vermont, was the first city in America to achieve 100% sustainable energy production for its people.
- As noted in 2016, more than 260,000 Americans currently work in the solar power industry.13 That number is expected to climb to more than 360,000 by 2021.14
- In 2016, there was one new solar panel installation every 84 seconds.
- NASA is presently working on a solar-powered aircraft.
- China has the most solar power wattage in the world—78,100 gigawatts—followed by Japan, Germany, the United States, and Italy.15
- Arizona and California are the sunniest states in America. No wonder they’re also leading producers and consumers of solar energy.
- Every square meter of our planet receives around 1,366 watts of direct solar radiation.16
Solar Power History
- The potential to harness solar power was first discovered by Alexandre Edmond Becquerel in 1839. He figured out the photovoltaic effect, or how to create an electrical current in a conductor that’s hit by the sun’s rays.
- The first commercial photovoltaic cell was invented in 1954 by Bell Laboratories.
- The first solar cells were available for purchase to the public in 1956, but at $300 per one-watt solar cell, few could afford them.
- The first solar-powered calculators were invented in 1978.
- In 2016, one company achieved 22.1% efficiency in converting sunlight to energy with their cadmium telluride panels.17
- Surprisingly, Exxon Mobile was one of the first companies to research ways to lower solar cell cost because the company used solar panels to power warning lights on oil rigs.