What is the True Cost of Solar Energy?
Solar power systems get their very clean and pure energy from the sun. Using a solar panel is one of the major ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the global dependency on fossil fuels. Solar-panels help save energy by reducing the population that depends on the National Grid for electricity. In simple terms, solar energy refers to the transformation of radiant sunlight and heat into electricity by ever-evolving technologies.
Once the solar energy reaches the solar inverter, it is converted from Direct Current (DC) electricity into Alternating Current (AC) electricity. The population that uses solar energy has seen a rise of over 68% over the last decade.
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You might wonder if solar energy is free since it comes from sunlight. Here is a breakdown of the true cost of solar energy.
Cost of purchasing an efficient solar-panel
The advancement of energy technology is evident over the years. There are three main technologies used in manufacturing solar panels globally; polycrystalline, monocrystalline and thin-film. The three different categories of panels also use different techniques when it comes to converting sunlight to electricity. The most efficient panels and the ones preferred by a majority of solar energy users are the monocrystalline panels. They have the highest efficiency rating and are smaller in size than their high electricity output. Monocrystalline solar panels are also the most durable of the three solar-panel categories, with a lifespan of over 25 years. The silicon used to manufacture monocrystalline panels purest among the three. Monocrystalline panels are the most expensive. Polycrystalline and thin-film panels are cheaper to manufacture hence cost-effective for many buyers.
The Return on Investment (ROI)
Calculating the ROI for solar energy on households or corporations depends on the location, the roof size available for solar panel placement, and the amount of solar radiation emitted annually. If the roof size is limited, monocrystalline panels are the suitable choice. But if you have plenty of roof space at your disposal, you can install polycrystalline panels. These are the better choice as you could save up to 20% compared to using mono panels. The cost of a solar panel is calculated in dollars per watt. With the existing government incentives for solar energy, its cost gets cheaper. The Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) ensures that every household that purchases and installs panels gets a 30% tax credit. A financial professional can help you better understand the tax credit. Moreover, most free tax software programs will be equipped to calculate this tax credit as well. In summary, purchasing your panels upfront without leasing or loans will contribute to more savings for the owner.
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Solar energy impact on the environment
Every energy system has its effect on the environment. Solar energy isn’t an exception. Constructing a large-scale solar farm for commercial use will occupy a huge parcel of land. This contributes to environmental degradation. Since the solar farms can’t facilitate agricultural use simultaneously compared to wind farms, big plots of land end up being wasted. Solar panels often use dust suppressants and herbicides made of very toxic chemicals that may poison the very water used for their cooling.
Suppose there are efficient methods that could be used to combat solar energy’s effect on the environment; in that case, its technology could still be the number one alternative for the non-renewable sources of energy.
When it comes to electricity savings, solar energy is the obvious choice making it convenient even for low-income earners.