In 2020 alone, the US invested in solar panels estimated to generate more than 19 gigawatts (GW) of power. That brought the country’s combined solar electric capacity to a whopping 103 GW. This kind of power, in turn, is enough to supply clean energy to 18.6 million homes.
Those are only a few facts about solar panels, but they can be enough to amaze anyone. However, if you’re still skeptical about the greatness of these devices, then this guide is for you. Read on to discover the most interesting truths about solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.
1. Solar Panel Carbon Footprint Is Far Smaller than Fossil Fuels
A carbon footprint is the sum of greenhouse gases (GHGs) generated by an activity. GHGs include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and ozone (O3), to name a few.
Of all energy sources, fossil fuels have the greatest carbon footprints. By contrast, solar panels are among the least GHG-producing energy sources worldwide.
For starters, a gas-fired power plant emits about 400 grams per kilowatt-hour (g/kWh) of GHGs. On the other hand, a coal-fired plant that captures and stores carbon emits 200 g/kWh of GHGs.
By contrast, solar PV panels have a life-cycle emission averaging only 25 to 32 g/kWh. That’s about 14 times smaller than gas and 7 times less than coal.
2. Solar Panels Don’t Emit CO as They Generate Power
Most emissions from solar panels come from their manufacturing and recycling. However, they don’t produce GHGs while harvesting the sun’s energy. They don’t create emissions while converting sunlight into usable electricity, either.
3. Solar Panels Don’t Pollute the Air While Producing Energy
When sunlight strikes a solar panel, its PV cells absorb the energy from the light. This absorbed energy then generates moving electrical charges within the panels’ cells. That’s how solar panels for homes and businesses produce electricity.
So, there’s no combustion involved as PV panels generate electricity. As such, they don’t create combustion pollutants, either.
In contrast, burned fossil fuels create not only GHGs but also particulate matter (PM). PM, in turn, causes particle pollution, which makes the air unhealthy and even deadly. Unfortunately, about 40% of the US population breathes such dangerous air.
4. Solar Panels Can Be a Key to Fighting Global Warming
The more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the hotter the planet gets. This then results in atmospheric and climatic temperature spikes.
In fact, from 1990 to 2019, the GHGs added by humans warmed the planet by 45%. CO2 alone accounted for 36% of that warming effect.
If humans don’t do anything to slow climate change, the temperature will keep rising. Aside from causing severe thermal discomfort, higher temperatures also worsen droughts.
Moreover, the warmer the planet gets, the more ice, especially glaciers, that can melt. This is one of the reasons behind increased water levels that cause deadly floods.
That makes buying solar panels worth it, considering their lower footprint. That should be enough of a reason for you to switch from fossil fuel-based electricity to solar power.
5. Using Solar Panels Can Save You Thousands of Dollars
According to Simplysolarcalifornia.com, solar savings can exceed $90,000 within 25 years. That’s the amount you can potentially pocket and use for more important things. So, by using solar panels, not only do you get to do your part in saving the planet, but you also get to save a lot of dough.
6. The Best Types of Solar Panels Can Last for More than 25 Years
Most of today’s solar panels have a standard lifespan of 25 years, but some can last for at least 30 years. What’s more, most manufacturers and installers offer performance warranties for that entire period.
The performance warranty usually comes with two guarantees. The first is a 90% production guarantee covering the first 10 to 15 years of the system. The second is an 80% production guarantee for the remaining years of the coverage period.
7. Solar Panels Can Still Produce Energy After 30 Years
Solar panels that reach the end of their warranty period won’t just stop producing energy. Instead, they can still generate energy many years after that, although at a declined rate. This decline is what the industry refers to as the solar panel degradation rate.
According to one study, some solar panels have a median annual degradation rate of 0.5%. In this case, you can expect the solar panels to experience a 0.5% reduction in their energy output every year. So, after 20 years, the panels may still produce 90% of the electricity they did during their first year.
By year 30, those panels may keep generating 85% of their first-year output. Within the next five years, their output may go down by a total of 2.5%. However, this implies that their production rate would still be 82.5%, even on their 35th year in service.
8. Solar Panels Work Even When It’s Cloudy
Granted, solar panels work best when the rays of the sun hit them straight on. However, they can still generate power using indirect and reflected sun. That’s why they can generate electricity even when it’s overcast, albeit at a lower rate.
9. Solar Panel Prices Have Dropped Considerably
The price of solar panels has shrunk by about 90% from 2010 to 2020. That lower cost isn’t due to low-quality materials or subpart manufacturing, though. On the contrary, PV panels are now cheaper due to improved technologies and processes.
10. The US Investment Tax Credit for Solar Panels Is Still Available
The 26% federal ITC is still available for solar panels for businesses and homes until 2022. So, if you install solar panels anytime from 2021 to 2022, you can qualify for that 26% tax credit.
If your installation begins in 2023, you can still receive a 22% tax credit. The ITC is set to expire at the end of 2023 for residential installations, though. However, commercial projects that start in 2023 and onward would be eligible for a 10% credit.
Time to Use These Facts about Solar Panels to Your Benefit
There you have it, your ultimate guide to some of the most amazing facts about solar panels. Now, you know that they can play a role in saving the planet (and also your money) and that they can last for many years, too.
So, as early as now, consider investing in the best solar panels. This way, you can contribute to the earth’s conservation and save a lot of dough in doing so.
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