Everyone knows solar energy is green, keeps our air clean, keeps our water clean, and keeps our climate livable. Everyone also understands that solar energy is renewable — the sun shines every day. But, below are 3 benefits of solar energy that I think are unknown to most people. Check them out and share them with your friends!
1. Solar Energy Makes The Grid More Secure
Solar energy has been popular amongst the US military elite for many years now thanks to the fact that solar panel systems are spread out — decentralized — and thus can make the overall electricity network much more secure (especially when used in microgrids). It’s much easier for an enemy to disrupt your electricity grid if they can target one or two large power plants and take them down. When you have thousands or even millions of power plants spread out on roofs and land all over the place, that becomes much, much more difficult. And when you can have them serving electricity within decentralized microgrids, that’s even better!
Of course, grid security isn’t just about protection from potential enemies. Natural disasters such as storms and floods can also wreak havoc on a grid and result in blackouts and brownouts — as those hit by Superstorm Sandy are well aware. This is the much greater threat that focuses our electricity grid today. A decentralized, solar-supported grid can help prevent such problems. It’s a direction in which we should be moving.
2. Solar Energy Cuts The Cost Of Wholesale Electricity
On the wholesale electricity market (where your electricity provider buys electricity from power plants), electricity from solar energy may not be cheaper than electricity from wind energy or other sources in many places on average. However, all electricity is not equal. When there is a lot of electricity supply but not a lot of demand, the value (and price) of electricity is lower.
Think of it like this: if there are tons and tons of lemons and people don’t want a lot of lemons, lemons are going to be cheap (as they are). However, if there aren’t a lot of pineapples available and a lot of people want pineapples, pineapple is going to be more expensive (as it is).
When it comes to electricity, the greatest demand for electricity is in the middle of the day and early evening — this is when people are most active and want to use the most electricity. With electricity production more or less the same throughout the day (and wind farms actually producing more electricity at night), electricity becomes more limited, more valuable, and thus more expensive in the middle of the day and early evening. (Sometimes this is passed on to consumers in the form of “time of use” electricity pricing — perhaps you have it in your region — but even if it is not, this is always the case on the wholesale electricity market.)
Now, because the sun is shining when we humans are most active (not a coincidence, of course), solar power systems produce more electricity at this time. As such, they grow the available supply of electricity and bring down the price of electricity when it is wanted most. In some cases (like in Germany in summer and in Australia, two places where there’s a lot of solar power installed), the cost of electricity in the middle of the day has become cheaper than the cost of electricity in the middle of the night! Here’s a chart on the normal electricity demand curve, and the price curve would normally more or less match that:
But here’s what a great deal of solar power and a sunny day did to the price of electricity on the wholesale electricity market in Germany in July 2012:
Anyway, the point is that solar power brings down the wholesale price of electricity on the grid. That’s one significant benefit of solar energy.
3. Solar Energy Saves You Money
If your electricity provider passes on the wholesale electricity price savings that come from solar power, you’re already benefiting financially. However, even if that’s not the case, if you decide to put solar panels on your roof, you can almost surely save a lot of money.
Retail electricity (just like retail everything) is considerably more expensive than wholesale electricity. Utility monopolies actually make quite a handsome profit. And that profit comes from your wallet. So, for home solar power to save you money, it just needs to be cheaper than electricity from your utility company. For millions and millions of Americans, that’s already the case.
However, the cost of solar power has come down really fast in just the past two to three years, so a lot of people simply don’t realize that solar power is cheaper than grid electricity now. But it is…
Of course, every situation is a bit different, and there are actually cases where solar power won’t save you money. However, in a lot of cases, it will save you tens of thousands of dollars over a couple decades.
Find out how much solar power is projected to save you within just a few moments.
If you do decide to go solar, just be aware that there are multiple options in some places. Some common options are: 1) taking out a loan from a bank (there’s a $0 down solar loan available across the nation from Admirals Bank), 2) getting a loan through a PACE financing program, in which you pay back the loan over time by paying a little more on your property taxes, or 3) leasing the solar panels from a solar company over the course of 15 or 20 years. In all of these cases, you can start saving money right off the bat through tremendously lower electricity prices. The benefits of solar energy are not tied to any particular financing option.
However, in all these situations, you are going to want to find the best solar installer in your area, who is offering the best value for the money. We can help you with that, as we are not wed to any particular company or installer network. So, go ahead and get in touch with us and we’ll help you out!
Benefits of Solar Energy Are Immense
These three benefits, combined with better health and a healthier environment, don’t encapsulate all of the benefits of solar energy — but they are certainly important ones. Other benefits of solar energy include job creation, strengthening of local and national economies, and a more efficient electricity network. But I think I’ll leave an in-depth discussion of those other solar energy benefits for another day. The stuff above is quite a lot to digest in one reading. 😀