Solar systems, along with other forms of renewable energy systems, can have many benefits. These solutions need to be considered as long-term investments which will provide advantages in near future, and further ahead. The full scale of these benefits, of course, only becomes unlocked when the initial cost of the system is paid back.
Environmental benefits: The most commonly known benefit of solar systems is the effect they have in reducing GHG emissions once they have been deployed and installed. However, the overall cleanness of solar panels and systems has been questioned by the opponents of these systems. While solar systems are far from perfect, and it is true that the processes of mining the resources used in manufacturing the panels (primarily Quartz that is processed into silicon) and the manufacturing itself are energy intensive, if the whole lifecycle of the systems (manufacturing-deployment-operation) is considered over a 30-year period, the initial energy required to kickstart the life of the panels is offset within the first few years of the system’s operation. So, the overall energy balance of the solar system is net-positive in the clean-generation territory.
The figure below which was included in a special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (also linked below) that examined various sources of renewable energy and their environmental effects shows the relatively minimal emission levels related to renewable resources in comparison to non-renewable resources. And as stated, even that minimal emission level is offset within a few years of the operation of the systems.
Energy independence benefits: Energy generation becomes a waste-free and much cheaper process when the generation happens at the site where the energy is going to be consumed: there is no need to transport the generated energy, which is generally the main cause of both wasted energy and added costs. Solar systems are a form of on-site energy generation. This on-site generation provides the system owner with a form of independence in relation to their power consumption habits. To make things ever better, this energy generation independence is rooted in abundant renewable resources and not conventional processed and unclean fuel sources. With the right consumption program/strategy, and also applicable energy efficiency measures considered in the consumption, the degree of this energy independence can be increased more and more towards the complete level. It is also shown that Distributed Generation Systems (which include renewable energy systems, and therefore, solar electricity systems) can help stabilize the power grid.
Social benefits: Renewable energy systems and projects help diversify local economies and workforce by creating new jobs and investment opportunities. They also provide ways in which the public can increase its level of education and understanding in regards to energy efficiency and general energy consumption habits. Raising awareness will help decrease consumption, costs and wasteful practices.
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