Solar Energy & The Environment
Benefits of solar energy to the environment
Table of Contents
Solar Energy & the Environment
Solar power is one of the newest forms of energy. There’s a lot of curiosity and interest surrounding it. Mostly because of the benefits that solar energy has to the environment and the low costs that it boasts.
However, many people are skeptical when it comes to this new method of producing energy. They say that the claim that solar power is the best form of energy isn’t authentic and needs further studies.
If you want to know whether solar energy is all that it claims to be, read this article to find out.
Is Solar Energy Safe?
Will I Always Have Electricity If I Go Solar?
The answer to this depends on your area’s grid. If it’s working fine without any interruptions, then yes. You’ll have non-stop access to as much electricity as you need when you connect your solar panels to the grid.
The reason for this is a concept called net-metering. Net-metering allows you to sell excess energy to the grid. In exchange, you get electricity when the sun isn’t shining or you’re short on power.
However, a lot of people have a mistaken this concept. It is believed that since the solar panel stores energy, it can supply power even when the grid is down or not functioning. This isn’t true because your solar panel is directly connected to the grid and needs it to work.
If you want to overcome this issue, you can install solar batteries to store electricity, which you can use when the grid is not functioning.
How Reliable Are Solar Panels?
A research survey showed that solar panels reliability as 99.95%. That means that only 1 out of every 2000 solar panels will experience some technical fault annually.
However, these statistics vary according to the type of solar panel you purchase and your location. Researchers have found that solar panels tend to operate more optimally in cold regions, whereas in the hot areas, solar panels experience more problems.
Similarly, the quality of the solar panel determines its reliability. That is why it is a smart move to purchase a solar panel from a credible company since you’ll get good quality.
However, even if your solar panel has stopped working, you can still avail the warranty offered by the owning firm and cover your costs.
What Happens If My Solar Panels Fail?
Solar panel warranties typically span around 20-30 years, which indicates that you’ll be well covered for a relatively long period after purchasing your solar panels.
There are two types of warranties you can find on a solar panel: product & performance warranties.
The product warranty refers to any designing flaw that’s present in the physical structure of the solar panel.
On the other hand, the performance warranty talks about the the solar panel efficiency. It guarantees that it will not give output below a certain specified standard.
Your solar supply company replaces the faulty parts if you didn’t damage them, for example, by washing or cleaning inappropriately. In some cases, they may also replace the panel entirely with a new one. You won’t be charged extra, except for the labor costs, which some companies don’t pay.
Are you wondering whether your solar panel system is operating at its full potential or not? There are two ways to find out. You can check your solar panels’ monitoring software or analyze your power bills.
Furthermore, you can also check with your grids. Some utility grids keep a record of how much electricity you consume every month, and the amount your solar panel produced.
Hence, if it isn’t producing a sufficient amount of power, then you’re bound to purchase excess electricity from the grid. It is essential to keep an eye out for those records.
How Reliable Are Other Solar Equipment?
Solar panels aren’t magical machines that instantly convert sunlight into electricity. They’re composed of several other parts as well, such as inverters, racking systems, and distribution panels.
Let’s see how reliable other parts of a solar panel system are.
Solar inverters convert direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). Since they typically come with a warranty of 15 years, you don’t have to stress too much about them malfunctioning.
Inverters are the most likely components of the solar panel system to experience problems. You can avoid those issues from the beginning by buying the device from a trusted company.
Batteries store excess electricity and are used independently without the presence of a grid. They’re also the component with the shortest warranty of 5-10 years. Although that depends on how properly you charge and discharge them.
Racking refers to the panel’s installation on your roof. It comes with a 15-20 year warranty that covers everything from the racking structure to its quality.
Since all of these systems come with warranties, you shouldn’t worry a lot. But at the same time, try to partner with an external firm for additional warranties and backups, in case of emergencies.
Is Solar Energy A Safe Investment?
Solar power is one of the most reliable sources of energy. It is also stable since it’s dependent on a few sources that are easily monitored and predictable.
The benefits of your solar energy system will depend on two things: electricity price fluctuations and amount of energy your solar energy system produces.
The most important thing to do is to take a look at your proposal. Your solar panel company will have mentioned the possible cash you can receive, above and beyond what you invested.
Electricity Cost Increase
It’s pretty difficult to predict how electricity prices will change on a day-by-day basis. However, scientists are reasonably sure that in the long run, i.e., thirty years and more, the cost of electricity will rise.
The reason for this is population increase, which will increase energy demand. Electricity companies will have to incur extra costs to meet these needs, increasing prices.
The reason for this is that the population will increase, and hence the power demand will also rise, and electricity companies will have to incur extra costs to meet these needs, increasing prices.
Climate Impact on Solar Energy
For example, if you have cloudy and overcast weather conditions, the solar power harnessed will be low. Consequently, you will lose out on potential gains.
If the weather in your locality is sunny most times, your solar panel will harness more energy, which you can sell for credits.
Even if you’re not a weather expert, there’s no reason to worry. Your solar panel installers will do a thorough analysis of the weather where you live. Then, they can draw up a fair estimate of the energy your solar panel can produce throughout the year.
The estimate will remain mostly stable throughout the year. Therefore, the production will be similar to the numbers present in the proposal offer.
Is Solar Energy Reliable or Unreliable?
One primary reason for solar energy’s popularity is its reliability compared to other energy sources. Solar panel systems offer an uninterrupted flow of power because its components rarely experience any technical faults or failures. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t use solar panels.
Additionally, solar energy is also tremendously helpful for your wallet. It cuts down on some significant power costs.
Are you fed up with the high electricity costs? Solar panels will solve that problem. Increase your home’s property value, and reduce your taxes with solar installation.
How to Avoid Solar Safety Risks
Installing solar panels on your roof is a complex process. There is the risk of falling off while handling such heavy equipment. You should also watch out for overheating, electrical shocks, and other issues related to the electrical device.
Furthermore, the normal risks associated with carpentry and roofing are some of the most commonly occurring accidents.
The Occupational Safety And Health Administration has legally obligated companies to make sure that their employees go through the proper training and are provided with the right type of gear.
Some companies have also taken the extra step and created guidelines to ensure employees safety.
Let’s see how you can minimize the the safety risks from solar panels installation.
1. Check the Worksite
Every place where you go to install solar panels is different, with its mix of problems and threats. Hence, it’s crucial that you visit each installation site beforehand to determine any points or places that need extra care.
Your survey should help you identify the following:
- The right type of tools and equipment you need to handle the solar panels correctly.
- Whether or not any ladders will be required, and if so, what type?
- Make some arrangements to prepare for the worst beforehand, for example, arrange for ground protection in case you fall.
- Each worker should have full protective gear.
- Before beginning the installation process, double-check every piece of equipment to ensure that it is in perfect working order.
2. Handling Your Solar Panels
Solar panels are tough to handle because they’re a heavy and bulky. Carrying the PV modules can strain your body. This can cause muscle pulls and back pains.
Solar panels heat up quickly when exposed to the sun. Therefore, they can cause burns to the body. Hence, here are some safety measures to take when installing solar panels in your home.
- When lifting solar panels, make sure you’re accompanied by at least two people, and remember to use the proper lifting techniques.
- Always use some form of transportation machineries such as carts or forklifts to carry the solar panels from one point to another.
- Never try to carry solar panels to a higher point by yourself, since it’s highly risky. Instead, always use cranes or ladder winches to do so.
- After opening the solar panels, make sure that you’ve covered them with some opaque material before carrying or working with them. This prevents the solar panels from heating.
- Make it a rule to use gloves all the time.
3. Ladder Safety
When installing solar panels, ladders are a piece of equipment that you can’t do without. Hence, you must find the right ladders to work with and use them properly.
Here are some solar installation Ladder tips to follow:
- There are many different kinds of ladders: stepladders, straight ladders, and extension ladders. Choose the right type. Additionally, understand that straight and extension ladders have to be extended for a minimum of three feet above the first rung.
- Use the right ladder material. Although aluminum and metal ladders are the most popular ones today, they pose a severe hazard when they’re near electrical grids. In such situations, it’s essential to use a fiberglass ladder.
- Use ladders with insulated side rails.
- Lastly, when placing the ladder, make sure it’s on a level ground, far from any doorways and powerlines.
4. Trips And Falls
Tripping and falling are dangers present in all sorts of rooftop work. However, the risk of falling while installing solar panels is more pronounced because as they are fitted on the rooftop. The space available for the worker decreases, and there is a greater chance of falling off.
Safety measures to avoid trips and falls:
- Firstly, make sure that the area where the installation is going to take place is free from all obstruction.
- Secondly, workers should take protective measures for any height that’s greater than five feet.
- There are three possible measures you can take: install rails next to the rooftops and the edges, give the workers proper harnesses in case they fall, or place safety nets below the rooftop.
- Apart from this, make sure that all openings and irregular surfaces on the rooftop are adequately covered and leveled before the installation process.
5. Electrical Dangers
A solar panel system has many components that conduct electricity. Most notably the photovoltaic array, which converts direct currents into alternating currents.
When there is sunlight, these systems are activated and may cause an electrical or arc shock. Furthermore, since they’re capable of producing sufficient power to cause harm even in places of low light, they’re an especially big concern that needs to be tackled.
Apart from all this, any solar panel handler needs to know that they produce electricity from two sources: the electrical grid and the photovoltaic arrays. Hence, even if the electrical grid is down or not working, the solar panel are still functioning.
Safety tips to avoid solar electrical dangers:
- Before working on the solar panels, cover them with an opaque sheet to avoid exposure to sunlight.
- After that, it’s time to start working with the wires. View them as dangerous as any wire coming out of an electrical grid system. Use a meter machine to check whether the solar panels are completely disconnected and are not producing any electricity.
- Identify any system whose power can be stopped to make it safe. Also, identify any points along the circuits where the equipment can suddenly become electrified so that you can be extra cautious at those points.
- Always remember that you’re never supposed to disconnect photovoltaic arrays when they’re under duress.
6. Working Equipment
Fully functioning safety equipment is an absolute necessity for any work related to solar panels. The solar installation company provides the equipment. Some of the essential safety items are hats, steel-based shoes, rubber gloves, and rubber-soled shoes.
The installers should use the equipment and follow the instructions provided. Request for replacement of any defective material.
Benefits of Solar Energy to the Environment
Water scarcity is increasing every day. This is especially true with regards to hydro-electric power stations. The plants are entirely based on water. They utilize vast quantities of water to cool off generators and help the flow of oil in pipes.
Solar energy requires no water. Therefore, it contributes towards the conservation of this resource.
No Pollution from Solar Energy to the Environment
Using conventional energy sources releases many toxic chemicals and gases into the air. The emissions are destructive to the environment and can endanger animal and plant species. Some chemicals also pollute the rivers and seas, harming marine life.
Since solar power produces no such harmful by-products, it is an essential source of energy that you can use sustainably.
Reduction of Carbon Footprint
Solar power has no carbon footprint. That means, it doesn’t contribute towards environmental degradation. Due to this efficiency and sustainability, solar energy is superior to all other forms of renewable energy.
Decreases Reliance on Fossil Fuels
Fossil fuels are a limited resource. One day, they are going to be fully depleted. As a result, human beings will have low electricity supply, since we’re so heavily dependent on fossil fuels.
To combat this, solar energy is our best option because it allows each homeowner to produce energy independently. As a result, the demand for fossil fuels will steadily drop, and so will our reliance upon them.
Helps to Combat Climate Change
One of the most important benefits of solar energy is its ability to fight the effects of climate change.
Fossil fuels produce carbon dioxide and other pollutants that are released into the earth. These gases create a greenhouse effect, increase the global temperature. This leads to global warming, which has dire consequences. Solar energy is an excellent solution to this problem. It doesn’t release any carbon dioxide into the air and can slow down the effects of global warming.
Less Wastage of Energy
Conventional energy have high wastage in the supply process to stations and substations. The wastage is even more from the stations to consumers.
Users of solar energy don’t face this problem. Solar energy comes directly from the source; therefore, there is no wastage. Furthermore, solar energy’s transportation is within range of its source. This makes it easier to deliver the power to other places without any loss.
Indirect Solar Energy Benefits to the Environment
Zero Energy Costs
The only cost to consider is the installation cost and the price for a battery if you’re using one. After paying these costs, you’re at full liberty to use the solar panel for free your entire life.
The installation of solar panels is a straightforward process, and anyone can do it. All you need is a guide.
All that solar panels need is a good orientation and tilt towards the sun. Apart from this, there are no restrictions regarding where you can place them.
These conveniences have significantly increased the popularity of solar panels and facilitated installation in both large-scale and small scale areas.
Lastly, solar panels are especially great for remote areas, where direct electricity supply is not feasible.
Solar Energy Fits Perfectly With Its Demand
Solar energy’s usage fits in perfectly with the global demand for electricity, which is high in the day and drops at night.
The energy is used primarily during the day. Any excess power produced can be used to fulfill your needs at night.
As long as you have an inverter, some good quality batteries, and you charge them during the day, you will never be short on electricity.
Power Grid Functions Better
Solar energy reduces strain on power grid because it reduces demand for electricity from utility companies. This reduces the frequency of blackouts and technical faults.
One great benefit of solar energy is that it has no costs to create or maintain the sun. Once you’ve paid the upfront cost for purchasing the solar panel and having it installed, there is no more money needed. You’re set for a lifetime supply of free clean energy!
Another advantage of solar energy is that it can be used in different ways. You can use it to generate either electricity or heat. You can use it to power remote areas with no access to electricity lines, or to distill water in regions with limited cleaning supplies. Inventors are also using the power for space exploration.
New technologies allow use of solar panels as building materials like solar shingles. Another innovation is the transparent solar-powered windows.
Solar panels require little maintenance, around once or twice a year at a cost of less than $50. This makes them brilliant investments.
Additionally, most companies that sell solar panels will give you warranties of around 20-25 years. What’s even better is that, since your solar panels have no moving parts, you don’t have to worry about them constant wear and tear.
The Rise of Electric Vehicles
One of the most significant sources of carbon dioxide in the environment is traditional vehicles. Switching from petrol and diesel-powered to electric solar energy-powered vehicles is a great way forward towards saving the environment.
These vehicles help in lessening the amount of carbon dioxide emissions. They’ll also save you trips to the gas station to purchase petrol and put an increasing strain on the country’s fossil fuel resources and the environment.
Prevents Health Issues
If you want to have good health, then solar energy is your best bet. Research has shown that the by-products of other electricity forms can be incredibly damaging to your health. Emissions from traditional sources of energy can cause problems such as asthma, bronchitis, pulmonary inflammation, and other permanent breathing problems.
When you introduce solar energy into your life, you get rid of these harmful substances and drastically improve your health. What’s even better is that doing so saves you from a host of health care bills, which would’ve only added to your stresses.
Adverse Effect of Solar Energy to the Environment
Since solar energy produces no harmful by-products or toxic waste, it doesn’t affect the environment negatively.
Furthermore, solar panels are durable. It can take up to many years for you to do any maintenance since they’re resistant to harsh weather. Because solar panels are permanently fixed on your rooftop or backyard, they can clean off with rain water.
Solar Energy As A Viable Alternative To The Energy Crisis
The world is facing an imminent energy crisis. Our primary sources for producing energy are non-renewable, meaning that one day they will run out. To be well prepared for such a day, we must find a satisfactory alternative to our energy needs.
There are four main criteria that we have to keep in mind when searching for an energy alternative. Solar energy fulfills every single one of those conditions. Let’s look at them one by one.
The first condition is that the energy resource must be unlimited. The reason for this is that our energy consumption has increased dramatically in recent times. Fossil fuels and coal-powered stations run the risk of running out.
To fight this, we need a source that can provide us with an infinite amount of energy to fulfill all of our needs. The only source that comes to mind after such a requirement is the sun since its present everywhere and can’t face exhaustion.
The second criterion is low cost. If the price of producing energy through this alternative resource is too high, then it won’t be effective, and companies won’t pursue it.
Keep in mind, however, that low cost doesn’t only mean that the initial investment has to be low. Instead, the overall long-term cost of producing energy has to be low. If the long-term cost is favorable, companies will even consider making a high initial investment.
Solar energy has a high long term cost-benefit margin. You only have to pay for the installation of the solar panels in your house. The benefits and savings will keep building up over time.
Since solar energy does not emit harmful gases to the environment, it fulfills this criterion.
The next criterion to discuss is environmentally friendly. This ties in with the sustainability factor since we don’t want to damage the earth while producing energy. Instead, we want an alternative method that will allow us to create energy without compromising the needs of future generations.
The fourth criterion is one of the most important. It states that the energy must be available to everyone, because if it’s limited to only a few elite people or advanced nations, then there’s no point in investing. The benefits won’t outweigh the costs.
Solar energy fulfills this criterion because the sun is available to everyone. All of us can benefit equally from solar energy. Solar panels can even be installed in remote areas and provide electricity to people independent of the power grid. They’re even more essential to have in these times.
It’s clear that solar energy is the only possible resource that fulfills these requirements.
Although nuclear fusion is also claimed to be a viable alternative, its prospects are still unclear even though millions of dollars have been spent on it so far.
As you can see, solar energy is truly a breakthrough when it comes to conservation of the environment. We must switch to it if we want to make the world a healthier and cleaner place to live in.