Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy

Solar energy is a renewable resource that provides a long-lasting, clean alternative to traditional fossil fuels, without harmful byproducts such as carbon dioxide, smog, greenhouse gases, and acid rain.

According to the United States Department of Energy:

  • Of all resources on Earth, solar energy is the most abundant. At any given moment, 173,000 terawatts of solar energy is reaching the earth. That’s 10,000X the amount of energy we use as a planet.
  • In one hour, enough solar energy reaches Earth to satisfy global energy use for an entire year.
photocell boards

Renewables Portfolio Standard Basics

A Renewables Portfolio Standard, or RPS, is a program designed by state legislature that can encourage the growth and use of clean energy. Most RPS programs operate by requiring utilities to have a percentage of their energy sold to be generated by renewable energy resources. This percentage often increases every year, and alternative compliance fees are issued if utilities do not meet the required amount. State utilities comply with the RPS by purchasing renewable energy generators and producing clean energy themselves, or in some states, by purchasing Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) from renewable energy generators.

Renewables Portfolio Standards vary from state-to-state. There is a direct correlation between the amount of solar energy systems in a state and the strength of the RPS. This is because the RPS provides an economic vehicle to make renewable energy more accessible through incentives. Essentially, a stronger RPS provides more environmental benefits. To see how state RPS incentives affect the cost of solar, click here.

Example of Environmental Contributions of Solar Energy Systems

A 100kW Solar Energy System, over the next 25 years would offset the equivalent of:

  • 6,826,813 lbs. of Carbon Dioxide (Greenhouse Gas)
  • 21,907 lbs. of Nitrous Oxide (Smog)
  • 19,832 lbs. of Sulfur Dioxide (Acid Rain)
  • 1,349 lbs. of Airborne Particulates (Asthma)
  • 11,107,906 Total Miles Driven in an Average Car (444,316 Miles per Year)

That is the same as taking 36 cars off the road for 25 years or planting 58.5 acres of trees!

(Using LG 260W/Enphase Micro-Inverters/South Orientation/22 Degree Tilt)