Economical and Environmental Benefits of Solar Power
This entry was posted on March 18, 2010.
Perfecting the science behind creating solar power energy could SIGNIFICANTLY reduce the volume of carbon emissions released into the earth’s atmosphere. Solar power could save the environment, but in addition to this for the slightly more selfish among us, it could also save consumers who choose to invest in a solar power system a lot of money. Let’s take a look at some of the personal and environmental solar power advantages of installing solar panels in your home…
Reduce your Carbon Footprint with Solar Power
World famous physicist Stephen Hawking once said that global warming is the single greatest threat to the world’s existence. The chief accelerator of global warming is the emission of Carbon Dioxide gasses into the earth’s atmosphere; the same gasses that are released daily by cars, airplanes, homes and most of all fossil fuelled power stations around the world.
Now, many people argue that the amount of non-sustainable energy that goes into building a solar powered system outweighs the energy saved after actually having it installed in your home. This is definitely not an accurate assumption. Yes, a certain amount of energy is required to build solar panels, solar batteries, charge controllers etc., however, research shows that it only takes approximately 1 – 3 years to eliminate the carbon footprint of the solar panels production. And after you have paid your carbon footprint dues, you can expect to continue using clean energy for up to another 30 years with the same solar power system.
To give you an idea of how much environmental good you can do by installing a solar energy system, take a look at the following statistics.
For every kWh of electricity generated in South Africa, the following carbon emissions are released:
- Coal burnt = 0.5 kg
- Carbon Dioxide released = 0.9 kg
- Water used = 1.3 liters
- Ash produced = 142 g
- Sulphur dioxide released = 8.22 g
- Nitrous oxide released = 3.62 g
Now, if an average household installs a solar power system and saves about 2000 kWh of energy in a year, the following environmental benefits accrue:
- 1000 kg of coal not burned
- 1800 kg of Carbon Dioxide not released
- 2600 liters water saved
- 284 kg ash not produced
- 16.4 kg sulphur dioxide not released
- 7.2 kg nitrous oxide not released
Imagine how substantially we could reduce our carbon footprint on Earth if an entire country was eventually able to operate on solar energy alone.
Save Money with Solar Power Systems
Years ago, installing solar power systems in homes was simply not an option due to the excessive costs involved. However, with technology becoming more refined and the popularity of solar panels increasing in South Africa, it has become MUCH more affordable for average Joe.
Capital costs for the installation of solar power systems can seem expensive at first glance; however the pay-off time for these systems is only about 10-12 years at the current price of electricity in South Africa. With the inevitable rise of electricity prices however, this pay off time will come down to about 7 years. Considering that a solar powered system has a lifespan of about 20 – 30 years, you can expect to save massive amounts of money on electricity for 15 – 25 years after having paid off your capital expenses.
South Africa is currently also introducing the first phases based on a German initiative called REFIT (renewable energy feed-in tariff). REFIT involves the government buying electricity from households, Independent power producers and other establishments who feed their solar powered electricity back into the grid. We can expect this initiative to be implemented in South Africa in about 2 – 3 years, which will definitely create more incentive for people to go solar.
What are you waiting for?
The average 3000 hours of sunshine that South Africa receives every year makes us the ideal candidate for solar power use. If you are purchasing a house and able to add a few extra Rands to your mortgage to install a solar power system, you should definitely consider it. You will save yourself loads of money in the long run, and more importantly, you will be doing your part to preserve our fragile environment!