Environmental Benefits of Solar Power

Sun AbundanceSolar provides a low impact, dependable, safe and clean source of electricity. The solar energy hitting the earth exceeds the total energy consumed by humanity by a factor of over 20,000 times. Clearly there is enough solar energy available to fulfill all the human race’s energy requirements now, and for all practical purposes, forever. The key is to start utilizing this benign and abundant resource.

Grid-tied distributed solar electricity has many environmental benefits:

  • Electricity generated from the sun has no emissions whereas typical electricity is responsible for 1.4 pounds of C02 for each kWh produced as well as other greenhouse gases.
  • The lifecycle CO2 emissions from the manufacture, transportation and installation related to all the parts of a solar power system will pay for itself in 2-5 years of operation, 1/20th to 1/6 of the life of the system
  • The transmission losses from electricity generated 100 feet away from end use are minimal compared to the 67% transmission losses from generating stations hundreds of miles away
  • Four gallons of water per kWh generated are saved when we produce electricity from the sun, compared to typical electricity generation which requires steam turbines to produce electricity

Our Current Power Grid:

In the US, electricity generation is responsible for 40% of the carbon footprint from energy consumption. Over 2200 million metric tons of CO2 are poured into the atmosphere every year from US electricity generation stations. One of the saddest facts is that, 2/3 of the electricity generated is lost in its transmission: it never even gets to an outlet.

In Virginia, electricity comes from:

  • Coal – 49%
  • Nuclear – 42%
  • Petroleum – 4%
  • Gas – 3%
  • Hydroelectric (Dams) – 0.4%
  • Renewable (wind, solar, etc.) – 0.001%

Two main environmental concerns associated with the use of coal are:

  1. Pollution, caused by emissions of contaminants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury, which affects human and environmental health due to air pollution and water pollution resulting from mountain top removal.
  2. Greenhouse gases, emissions of which contribute to global warming