7 Benefits of Solar Energy to the Environment (Explained)

Solar energy is usable energy captured from the sun that can be used in various ways. It can be used immediately to power a home or stored for later use.

Solar is an attractive renewable resource as the sun is one of the world’s most reliable and abundant clean energy sources.

Solar energy has several benefits for the environment. The following sections below will explore the top benefits in more detail.

7 Benefits of Solar Energy to the Environment

Solar energy has many benefits for the environment, society, and economy. It is a clean, non-polluting resource that helps mitigate the effects of climate change.

As the popularity of being green increases, people are attracted to making environmentally conscious decisions and having energy independence.

1. Helps Mitigate Climate Change

Solar energy helps mitigate climate change by reducing CO2 emissions and releasing fewer pollutants into the air.

The release of CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide mitigation through conventional energy production (e.g., coal, gas, and oil) contributes to the enhanced greenhouse effect. This naturally occurring process traps energy from the sun and warms the earth’s surface.

However, human activities have increased greenhouse gases within the atmosphere and have caused the planet to warm faster than before.

The consequences of climate change are severe, including glacier melting, rising sea levels, and increased health impacts.

Solar energy benefits the environment because capturing and converting solar energy into electricity does not produce any pollutants or greenhouse gases.

2. Reduces Reliance on the Grid

Capturing solar energy and converting it into electricity reduces reliance on the grid and reduces energy use from the grid.

Solar power does not work at night, so users must install batteries to store their energy at night or use energy from the grid. In most cases, the grid collects energy from non-renewable resources and fossil fuels.

Solar energy benefits the environment because it generates less demand for the grid, reduces the need for fossil fuels, limits greenhouse gas emissions, and shrinks your carbon footprint.

Once a solar panel system is installed, it will derive clean, pure energy from the sun. This helps combat climate change and reduce society’s dependence on fossil fuels.

3. Lower Carbon Footprint

Carbon footprint refers to the total greenhouse gas emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalents.

The average American’s carbon footprint is 16 tons, one of the highest rates in the world. Globally, the average is around 4 tons, and to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change, the average global footprint per year needs to be about 2 tons by 2050.

Installing solar energy is a great way to lower your carbon footprint, as it is a natural and renewable resource. For every kilowatt of power produced by solar energy, your home’s carbon footprint is reduced by over 3,000 pounds per year, resulting in an average reduction of 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.

Solar energy benefits the environment by reducing the global carbon footprint and producing little to no emissions. Reducing our carbon footprint can save billions of dollars in climate change damages, such as flooding.

4. Reduces Reliance on Non-Renewable Resources

Solar energy is a renewable resource that is endless and free to capture. It is available anywhere on Earth, although some latitudes are better suited to harness solar energy.

Unlike conventional energy sources (e.g., coal, oil, and gas), energy from the sun is infinite and will never run out.

Solar energy reduces the dependence on non-renewable resources that create pollutants and deplete non-renewable natural resources that are finite.

Renewable energy technologies, such as solar energy, benefit the environment because they do not require many resources to produce energy.

Once solar panels are installed, the system does not require energy, water, or other resources to produce electricity.

By harnessing solar energy, the demand for fossil fuels and non-renewable resources decreases, helping to conserve the planet’s natural resources.

5. Reduces Air Pollution

Electricity produced from fossil fuels (e.g., oil, gas, and coal) generates gases like carbon dioxide and methane. These gases create air pollution and smog, which are linked to several health conditions, including asthma, allergies, bronchitis, pneumonia, headaches, anxiety, heart attack, and cancer.

Solar energy also eliminates water pollution from power plants. During the cooling stages of energy production, power plants process water that often becomes contaminated with toxins such as mercury, lead, and arsenic.

After production, the contaminated water is released or disposed of, eventually entering and polluting waterways, impacting ecosystems and marine wildlife.

Solar energy is beneficial to the environment for several reasons. As a clean energy source, it eliminates pollution, harmful emissions, and toxins from energy production. It also reduces pollution by decreasing society’s reliance on fossil fuels to produce electricity.

Solar energy can prevent billions in health and environmental damage by decreasing pollution. This will not only save lives but will also save ecosystems and conserve natural environments.

6. Conserves Water Usage

Water is a precious resource, as only 3% of the earth’s surface is fresh water. Resource extraction and conventional electricity sources are labor-intensive, environmentally disruptive, and require tens of thousands of liters of water annually. For example, coal-fired plants use over 15,500 gallons of water for each megawatt-hour of electricity.

Unlike conventional electricity and energy sources, solar energy does not require water to get power.

Solar energy is a crucial resource and long-term water-saving solution that can help conserve the world’s water supply.

7. Withstand Environmental Factors

In today’s consumer-based society, products are rarely built to last, and the constant purchasing and replacing of goods contributes to resource extraction and waste.

Solar energy benefits the environment because once the system is installed, it lasts up to 50 years and requires little to no maintenance.

Solar panels are specifically designed to withstand environmental factors. Conventional electricity production methods require regular replacement and maintenance, which contributes to waste, pollution, and resource extraction.

Solar energy has several economic advantages for individuals (e.g., lower electricity bills) and the economy (e.g., less money spent on resource extraction).

Key Economic Benefits

  • Creates jobs in manufacturing, installation, and maintenance
  • Diversifies energy supply
  • Reduces dependence on fossil fuels
  • Economic development
  • Stabilize the economy by reducing uncertainty in future energy prices

Key Social Benefits

  • Energy independence
  • Reduces electricity bills between 14-54%
  • Better health
  • Opportunities for employment
  • Homes with solar energy sell twice as fast
  • Ensures sufficient supply of energy for future generations

History of Solar Energy and How it’s Used

Solar energy’s history and timeline date back to the 7th century B.C., when magnifying glasses and mirrors were used to produce fire. In the late 1700s and 1800s, researchers and scientists began experimenting with harnessing the sun’s energy for power.

While that was successful, the breakthrough in solar energy came with the invention of the solar panel, which uses photovoltaic technology to convert sunlight into thermal or electric power. This quickly emerged as the most common method for capturing the sun’s rays to convert them into usable electricity.

Solar energy can also be used for thermal applications that heat indoor spaces or water (e.g., a pool).

Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Solar Energy

Solar energy is abundant and can be endlessly harnessed to meet the growing energy demands. It has a wide range of environmental benefits and is also an excellent resource for generating clean and sustainable energy.

Using solar energy allows for sustainable economic and societal development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations.

The key benefits of solar energy are that it decreases the dependence on fossil fuels, supports sustainable economic growth, creates job opportunities, and creates a healthier environment.

Given all the benefits solar energy offers society, the economy, and the environment, it will undoubtedly become a leading energy source soon.

Related content:
Benefits of Living Off the Grid

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