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Is Solar Power Truly Sustainable (or Is It Just Hype)?


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There are many benefits of solar power – from lower bills to increased energy independence. But environmental protection is increasingly becoming a primary driver for new photovoltaic (PV) installations as well. This is especially true now that the effects of climate change are becoming harder to ignore, with:

  • Superstorms in the Gulf of Mexico that wind their way up the Eastern seaboard
  • Wildfires that turn the Pacific Northwest’s skies Martian orange (during noon)
  • Record-setting heat waves and crippling droughts that destroy precious crops

Even if you live far away from global warming’s visible effects, it’s worth noting that the last five years were the hottest in recorded history. And many expect 2020 to set a new record.

But is solar power truly a sustainable energy option that can help halt – and potentially reverse – climate change?

The “Truth” about Solar PV Technology

How solar panels work is simple. With PV panels installed on your residential, agricultural or commercial property, you are less dependent on utility electricity generated from dirty fossil fuels like coal or natural gas. The only time you need grid power is at night, once the sun goes down. 

The monthly savings your solar PV system accumulates over time – eventually exceeding the upfront cost of installing your solar panels. This payback period averages 7 to 12 years, depending on your PV system’s size, location, and quality.

Better still, you can feed any unused solar power back to your utility provider. This helps to green the entire grid by reducing fossil fuel needed to power your local community. If you also enrolled in incentive programs like the feed-in tariff or net energy metering, you receive compensation for the solar electricity you send into the grid. These generous incentives help to shorten the payback period of your clean power investment.

It’s also possible to install on-site solar storage, which allows you to decouple from the utility grid completely:

  • During the day, you power your home or business using solar energy from your panels
  • When the sun goes down, you take the electricity you need from your on-site solar batteries

It still gets better.

Whether you have batteries installed or not, your PV panels will continue generating clean power for decades to come. Most solar modules are warrantied for 25 years on average. But with minimal maintenance, you can keep your own system up and running for 30 to 40 years.

On the surface, this seems pretty sustainable. After all, we’re talking about decades of clean electricity that doesn’t harm the planet.

Even so, no PV panel technology is 100% green. To see why, keep reading.

Remember, hiring a reputable solar company makes all the difference for your installation.


The Dark Side of Solar PV Technology

Once installed, your solar panels will generate 25 to 40 years of clean energy. But it takes energy (and resources) to source, manufacture, and ship your PV modules. And all these production and transportation processes rely heavily on dirty fossil fuel.  

Doesn’t this eat into the green energy savings that solar power offers?

Yes. But according to the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the average energy payback period of multi-crystalline silicon solar panels is about four years. So although each PV module arrives on your rooftop with a sizable carbon footprint, it breaks even very quickly – producing more clean energy over its first few years than went into its manufacture and production.

By Year 5, the panels on your roof truly are sustainable – with many more decades of environmental benefits to come.

This is in sharp contrast with most other energy generation technologies – many of which never break even. For example, most utilities use generators that require never-ending supplies of coal or natural gas to keep working. And these fossil fuel inputs release plumes of CO2 that destroy the planet and our bodies.

Even many “renewable” technologies fall short of the sustainability benefits that solar offers:

  • We still haven’t figured out how to properly store or dispose of radioactive waste from nuclear power facilities
  • Geothermal shows promise, but the technology is only suitable in certain hotspots around the globe
  • Wind power is expensive to build, and it’s not really suitable for small-scale applications
  • Hydro is also expensive to construct. And building new dams disrupts local habitats and ecosystems

So, Is It Time To Hire A Solar Company?

Because of the energy and resources that go into solar panel production, it’s not fair to call the technology 100% green. But both from an environmental and financial standpoint, solar is one of the most sustainable energy generation technologies we currently have:

  • Installing PV panels on your roof helps to save you money (starting on Day 1)
  • Adding solar to your home or business shrinks your carbon footprint (also from Day 1)

And these utility bills and carbon savings continue – month after month – for decades.

To start taking advantage of these benefits, request a free solar quote from us today.

EVOLVsolar is Western Canada’s leading solar company. We have one mission: to make solar energy affordable while giving back to the environment. By investing in solar power, you can save money on energy bills, upgrade the value of your property and reduce your energy output. You can expect high-quality solar panel installation, world-class workmanship, excellent customer service and the best solar technology available. Our success has established us as the go-to solar installers in BC and Saskatchewan, and one of the leading solar companies in Alberta. Experience the EVOLVsolar difference by contacting our corporate office today at (587) 602-0534.

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