Benefits of Solar Energy
Why Is Solar Energy Important?
Solar energy systems have very little impact on the environment, making them one of the cleanest power-generating technologies available today. While they are converting the sun's rays into electricity or hot fluids, they produce no air pollution, hazardous waste, or noise. The more electricity and heat that we convert from the sun's rays decreases our reliance and dependence on fossil fuels and on imported sources of energy. Finally, solar energy can be an effective economic development driver. The U.S. PV market increased by 57 % in 2007, to 220 MW (Solarbuzz). In 2006, the cumulative installed PV power in the U.S. was 624 MW (IEA Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme). The Energy Information Administration forecasts the long-term growth of PV in the U.S. to reach nearly 3,000 MW by 2030, not including off-grid installations. The PV industry generated over $17 billion in global revenues in 2007 and worldwide PV installations increased to 2,826 MW in 2007, up from 1,744 MW installed during 2006 (Solarbuzz). Global cumulative PV capacity in 2006 reached 6,634 MW (EPIA).
Why are States Investing in Solar?
Many states have come to recognize that clean energy technologies can provide cleaner air, economic development and high tech jobs, fuel diversity, energy independence, improve power reliability, increase price stability, and reduce the need to build more expensive and more polluting electric power generation plants. Solar technologies are able to provide these benefits, but they currently cost more in terms of $ per kWh than conventional power from utilities. The biggest barrier to consumers interested in adopting PV or solar technologies is the initial cost of a PV or solar hot water system. As a way to help defray those upfront costs, states are providing incentives to residential, industrial and commercial customers of PV through tax credits, grants, loans, rebates, exemption from local property taxes, and other industry support mechanisms, such as installer training and certification programs.
What Can Solar Do For You?
Photovoltaic (PV) power systems convert sunlight directly into electricity. A residential PV power system enables a homeowner to generate some or all of their daily electrical energy demand on their own roof, exchanging daytime excess power for future energy needs (i.e. night time usage). The house remains connected to the electric utility at all times, so any power needed above what the solar system can produce is simply drawn from the electric utility. Solar energy technologies can plan an important role in providing an alternative source of electricity, energy, and back-up power for homes, offices, commercial and industrial buildings. It can relieve demand pressures for electricity off from the grid during peak usage, which usually correlates to peak daylight, especially in the warmer months when demand for air conditioning can sky rocket.
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