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Is Solar Energy Investment Worth It?

Fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, remain the world’s primary energy sources. They constitute 83% of the energy we use, as reported by The World Counts.. In the Global Energy Report published in 2021 by the International Energy Agency (IEA),” with “In particular, oil is the world’s biggest source of energy In particular, oil is the world’s biggest source of energy In particular, oil is the world’s biggest source of energy  making up 40.4% of the world’s total final consumption. [Global Energy Report, 2021, published by the International Energy Agency (IEA)]

Fossil fuels are not inexhaustible sources of energy, they are what we refer to as non-renewable energy,an energy sources that will not be replenished during our lifetimes.  . withThese resources are rapidly depleting. The steady increase in world population, emerging markets, developing economies, the increasing trend in global energy consumption. All these factors, contribute to their decline

A silver lining discussed in the IEA report is how renewables became a success story of the COVID-19 era and they are naturally occurring around us. They are abundant. Replenished at a higher rate than they are consumed.The IEA report stated that the “demands for renewables grew by 3% in 2020” and that “renewables are set to provide more than half of the increase in global electricity supply in 2021.”   This is a welcome development in the face of an impending crisis in global energy sources.

An example of a renewable source is solar energy, the most abundant of all energy sources, if not unlimited, because it comes from the sun. It can even be harnessed in cloudy weather. Thus, solar energy presents itself as a practically limitless, clean source of energy. Having understood solar power’s potential as an unlimited source of energy, the question that remains to be answered is whether solar energy investment is worth it.

Understanding solar energy investment and how much it costs

Before one decides to transition to solar energy at home, there are factors that you must first consider when it comes to solar energy investment.

Shifting to solar energy takes into account a number of considerations – financial, structural, and environmental.

First, is the cost of solar panels, which are not cheap.In the United States, solar panels range from US$ 15,000 for the average system size with a capacity of 4 kilowatts to US$ 29,000 for a larger system size with a capacity of 8 kilowatts.  Pricealso depends on the type of solar panel systems to be installed – grid-tied or hybrid. The former does not come with a solar battery, and thus it taps on the grid for energy when the solar panel system is not generating electricity, while the latter has a solar battery which stores electricity generated by the system during the peak hours. Price will also be influenced by whether the panels will be for residential, commercial, or industrial spaces. There are also solar panel systems that are ideal for electricity bills of a certain range.lOther elements necessary for the functionality of the solar system is the inverter and, the metering equipment,. 

Secondly is the financial consideration related to the installation of the solar panel systems. While the upfront cost of a residential solar panel system makes up the bulk of the expenses, installation costs, including labour should be accounted for.  Aside from installation costs, the maintenance costs can also be high.

A third consideration in solar energy investment is the structure and location of the house.  The size of the solar panel system will depend on the available installable area on the roof. as well as the roof’s design, if steep or flat, as well as the presence of a chimney.  All these will influence the cost-effectiveness of the solar panels. 

A most important consideration is in fact the location of the house.If located in an area with great sun exposure the solar panels functionality of collecting energy can be maximized. While solar panels are advertised to be functional even when cloudy or at nighttime, this is not always the case. Some solar panel systems require expensive batteries to provide power during such times.

The fourth consideration in solar energy investment has to do with the environment. Since the solar panels do not produce harmful emissions that are released into the air when electricity is created they are considered as a source reducing the global carbon footprints.  However, it is not yet accurately measured how much damage it is done during the supply chain process of bringing the solar panels from the stage of mining the elements and building the components that are used to manufacture them,  to the house.  What is also not closely reported is the damaged to the environment created at disposal of the solar panels and their batteries once they become extinct. 

Benefits of Solar Energy Investment

Despite the financial costs and considerations cited above, once the solar panels are installed, US customers are estimated to have an average annual savings of about US$ 1,500 a year by going solar, which translates to US$ 37,500 over the course of 25 years. These savings can vary from US$ 10, 000 – US$ 90, 000 depending on other factors, such as roof size, sunlight exposure, local energy rates, and solar incentives. 

Moreover, the solar panels’ operational costs are also quite low compared to other forms of power generation. This is because solar power can create large amounts of electricity using sunlight without requiring a fuel supply. This is as opposed to other energy sources that burn fuel to generate electricity.

Reduction of carbon footprint and zero emission of harmful gases are also other benefits derived from solar energy investment. While others may find these benefits to the environment immaterial since these do not primarily involve monetary evaluation, the bigger picture is that these environmental benefits are equally important as, if not more important than, any monetary gains. This is a small contribution in the hopes of mitigating climate change.

The US Department of Energy in its report, Investing in a Clean Energy Future: Solar Energy Research, Development, and Workforce Priorities, published in 2021, mentions solar power as a job creator and one of the fastest-growing sectors.  In the United States, there were over 300,000 people employed in the solar industry in 2020. These workers are employed by over 10,000 solar businesses across the country and many of which are small businesses. 

Conclusion

While there are a number of considerations – financial, structural, and environmental – a solar power system is a long-term investment.

 

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