December 3, 2012

Solar Energy Facts: It’s Time We Start Paying Attention

Solar energy is the future of energy in America and is expected to grow 20-40 percent per year for the next ten years. Some naysayers are against solar energy, and one argument is because it is very expensive in the short term to implement, but the long-term benefits outweigh the negative both with cost and practicality.

The facts are:

  • 44.9% of our energy comes from dirty, nasty, coal.
  • 23.4% comes from natural gas which is in short supply.
  • 20.3% comes from nuclear power which is dangerous

Generation after generation has passed the buck, and that buck is rapidly catching up to us. In order to understand why we should invest in solar power, we first should understand the harm that coal is causing. I am going to focus on coal rather than the other energy sources since it is what we use the majority of.

  • Hundreds of thousands of forest acres are cleared out and burned down for the extraction of coal.
  • CO2 is released from coal beds and the mining process.
  • Nickel, mercury, arsenic, chromium, cadmium, sulfur, nitrogen, fluorine, and chlorine are amongst the elements released from coal.
  • Coal waste is under-regulated, and more than 100 million tons of coal waste are generated each year.
  • There is toxic sludge leftover that pollutes water, poisoning our communities

The list goes on; coal damages the environment, leads to global warming, kills living animals including humans, and all of this data should be enough for us to realize we cannot keep using coal like it’s popcorn in a movie theater. We have to make sure the buck stops here, with us, and that we make an effort to change the energy that we use.

In the short term solar energy is very expensive, in the long term the financial return is remarkable. The ROI (return of investment) on a solar powered home is over 100 percent. Solar panels, the instrument used to solar power a home, are the only home improvement that pays for itself. In fact, full payback can happen fairly quickly. Thanks to the Federal solar tax credit, utility incentives, subsidies, and rebates are available to homeowners for solar powered homes.

Right now the U.S. consumes 25% of the world’s oil production daily. Solar power reduces bills thus saving home owners money. Utility bills are far less expensive compared to that of a conventional home since the solar power is used for lighting, heating, cooling, etc.

Global warming isn’t even a logical debate if you live in almost any part of the world, accept for the U.S. For some reason we seem to be the only super power that still has a large part of our society in denial of the facts, but denial does not change facts. Solar energy on a global front is a large solution to global warming. We are killing our planet with the current forms of energy that we use; solar energy is clean and will help reduce this destruction.

It would be easier to just stick with the system we have, and more convenient for us. That has been the problem with our attitude as a society when it comes to energy. It is far easier to stay within a broken system than it is to invest in the future, to take the initiative to put forth the effort to make a change. But we have to because the evidence is loud and clear; we cannot keep doing what we’ve been doing without hurting the earth, the wildlife, and us.

Solar energy is clean, safe, and abundant. You don’t have to burn up the environment, or ruin your health in order to use it.

Image Credit: ArtisticPhoto / Shutterstock

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