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Is Solar Energy Renewable? What Every Homeowner Needs To Know

Jun 24, 2022

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Looking for an alternative to expensive electricity from your electric company? Installing solar panels will let you take control of your home’s electricity production and your monthly bills. But solar panels do far more than just enable you to keep your costs low.

Solar panels allow you to embrace a more environmentally friendly way of powering your home. However, environmentally friendly energy isn’t always renewable. Let’s explore the renewability aspect of solar power generation.

Is Solar Energy Renewable Or Non-Renewable?

Energy is derived from both renewable sources and non-renewable sources.

Renewable energy is constantly regenerating and won’t disappear even if billions of people constantly use it. It comes from resources like solar power, geothermal energy production and wind energy. Non-renewable energy comes from finite energy resources, like fossil fuels and coal, that can’t be replaced or replenished once they’re used up.

Solar Is Renewable

The sun continues to shine every day, powering homes and businesses alike that are equipped with solar panels. If the sun is renewable, then so is solar energy. Even if every house in the world was equipped with solar panels, enough sunshine would be available to provide energy to each home indefinitely.

How Environmentally Friendly Is Solar Energy?

There’s a difference between being a renewable source of energy and an environmentally friendly source of energy. Solar, for the most part, is environmentally friendly once the panels are in place, but that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect green source of electricity. There are some ways that solar can harm the environment.

Harvesting Materials For The Solar Panels

Photovoltaic panels are made with copper, cadmium, nickel and other metals that must be mined from the earth. Unfortunately, most mining operations rely heavily on fossil fuels and chemicals to get the job done.

Mining on an industrial scale can disrupt entire ecosystems, making solar panel production somewhat damaging to the environment. However, once the panels are made and installed, they can produce clean energy, helping offset the negative effects connected with their production in as few as 4 years.

Degradation Of Battery Backup Systems

One of the biggest benefits of modern solar systems is their ability to store power produced by the panels. This allows businesses and homes to run on clean, renewable energy even at night. However, most systems rely on a series of batteries to store the excess power collected by the panels during the day.

And those batteries won’t last forever. Once they stop holding a charge or reach a certain age (usually between 5 – 15 years), you’ll need to hire a contractor to remove and replace them.

While most solar contractors will make sure the batteries are property disposed of or recycled, accidents can happen. If the batteries end up in the landfill, the chemicals can leach into the soil and pollute the water supplies nearby.

The Manufacturing Process For The Panels And Components

Many solar cells and panels are produced in factories that still use fossil fuel-based energy. This means that the production of some panels used to create renewable energy contributes to pollution and the emissions of greenhouse gases that lead to global warming and climate change.

Why Solar Power Is Worthwhile

Though the production of solar panels and the components used to power homes with solar energy isn’t as clean as it could be, the resulting systems operate much more efficiently and cleaner than power from the grid.

Over time, solar panels can reduce the average household’s greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 80% compared to electricity generated by fossil fuels.

How To Make Your Solar Panel System More Environmentally Friendly

If you’re trying to create a completely clean source of electricity for your home, it’s wise to pay attention to the system you install. Take the following steps to create a truly renewable and clean solar setup:

Choose Panels Made By A Reputable Company

Cheaper panels are often made with less environmentally friendly materials in factories that don’t properly recycle or dispose of byproducts and waste. Instead of focusing solely on the price of the panels you’re buying, choose panels made by a company that prioritizes sustainable production methods. These manufacturers go to great lengths to properly dispose of waste, chemicals and other hazards that could contribute to pollution.

Look For Systems With Long Lifespans

Solar panels themselves can last for decades if given the proper care and maintenance and can help reduce your home’s reliance on the electric company on their own. However, if you choose to invest in battery storage systems, know that the batteries may not last as long as the panels. And the cheaper they are, usually the shorter their lifespan. When searching for a battery backup system, pay attention to the estimated lifespan of the batteries and cells the system uses.

You’ll want to choose a system that will last as long as possible. You’ll likely even save money in the long run by not having to replace the batteries as frequently.

Recycle What You Can

If panels or components get damaged, don’t just toss them into the landfill. Work with your solar contractor to recycle what you can. They’ll know what types of materials your local waste management company can take and can find proper recycling facilities for the rest of the components.

Go Off-Grid

The more your home relies on the electricity your electrical company provides, the more reliant you are on fossil fuels and other non-renewable forms of energy. If possible, consider installing enough solar panels to let your home go off-grid.

When you have enough panels in place, solar energy can power your home all by itself.

Keep in mind that some areas have restrictions in place that require homeowners to keep their properties tied to the grid. Check with your county or city to find out if there are any restrictions in your area.

Sell Your Excess Electricity

If you have a large enough system in place, it’s possible that the panels will produce more energy than your home can use. While you can store it for use during outages or at night, you may be able to sell the excess electricity back to your electric company.

Not only will you earn money by selling that excess power, but you’ll help your electric company reduce its reliance on non-renewable energy sources and decrease the negative environmental impacts resulting from traditional electricity generation. If you decide to do this, you’ll need to talk to your electrical provider before you can start getting paid.

The Bottom Line

Solar energy is renewable and a great alternative to fossil fuels and other non-renewable energy sources. As long as you choose panels made by reputable and responsible manufacturers and install enough panels to reduce your home’s reliance on the electrical grid, you’ll be able to go green for years to come.

Not sure what panels will work best for your home or how many you need to maximize energy production? Get the process started with Rocket Solar℠.

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