Solar panels can be a great investment both for your own finances and for the environment. Have you ever wondered what sort of an impact solar panels will have if you install them? How much money could you save and what sort of an impact on the environment would this be? Well let’s go through how it all works and how you can start benefiting from the power of solar panels!
How solar panels save the environment Solar panels are beneficial in a number of ways. The environment of course is just one way that solar panels pay their way. By generating energy directly from the sun, without any harmful by-products, solar panels are a fantastic way to use nature’s resources. It allows us to have electricity in our homes, without the need for burning coal or other “dirty” power generation technologies.
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Don’t solar panels need a lot of energy to be manufactured? It is of course true that solar panels require energy to allow the manufacturing process to take place. This is, however, far exceeded by the amount of “clean” energy the solar panel produces. For example, a 250W solar panel in Brisbane, Australia would generate approximately 383kWhs per year. Over its rated lifetime of 30 years, the solar panel will generate around 10,000 kWhs of energy. This includes panel degradation over time.
Why doesn’t the world run on solar panels?
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At the moment, the world is in a state of energy crisis. With the impending threat of global warming and the increasing problem of pollution in major cities, it’s clear that a solution is needed. So why don’t we all just get solar panels on our roofs? Why aren’t power companies building massive solar farms to meet the world’s energy needs? After all, the world’s energy needs could be met with quite a small land area using our solar resource only. The reason for this is that there is a storage dilemma. Solar panels only produce energy while the sun shines on them. But much of the energy we humans use is actually needed at night time. This means there is some type of energy storage required to make up for times when sunlight is not available.
Solar technology is improving all the time and so is battery technology. The new Tesla power pack announced in 2015 has created quite a buzz around the world around this issue. There are also other energy storage options which are still being refined and developed to make solar panels a bigger player in the world’s energy mix. Don’t forget, coal and oil make good profits and most of the world relies on them. So making the switch to an environmentally friendly, less profitable energy generator could be a big ask and might take some time.
How solar panels save money
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There are two major ways that solar panels can save you money:
1. Allowing you to avoid paying for power by using it straight off your panels
2. Selling the power you generate to the grid
In most cases, it’s some mix of these two. For example, a grid-tied solar energy system in Australia is almost always NET-metered. A NET arrangement is one where energy flows both in and out of your house. Energy flows in from the grid when the panels haven’t created enough. Energy flows out from the grid when the panels are creating too much. So on a sunny summer’s day when you’re out at the beach, your panels will pump power into the grid and you’ll usually get a pittance for it. You’re far better off using the power generated to offset the high costs of electricity.