WHY SOLAR MAKES SENSE

While a majority of the world's current electricity supply is generated from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, these traditional energy sources face a number of challenges including rising prices, security concerns over dependence on foreign imports, growing environmental concerns over climate change risks associated with power generation using fossil fuels and decreasing amounts of nuclear generation in the utility generation mix. As a result of these and other challenges facing traditional energy sources, governments, businesses and consumers are increasingly supporting the development of alternative energy sources and new technologies for electricity generation.

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SOLAR ENERGY FACTS

  • Solar PV is a good neighbor – solar PV installations are just like agriculture in that they are not quite as high off the ground as a crop of corn, so they do not interfere with sightlines. Once “planted”, they sit quietly, with no noise and no moving parts and generate electricity for 20-30 years or more.
  • Emissions-free electricity
  • Reduction of cost volatility because the fuel is stable, free and virtually limitless
  • Ability to locate projects within the distribution grid, avoiding system losses and costly new transmission
  • Shorter project lead times and rapid deployment potential
  • Solar PV requires virtually no maintenance and once built costs only about 2-3 cents per watt EACH YEAR to operate.
  • Solar PV produces electricity during the daytime, which is the peak period for usage, and produces maximum output during the summertime when utilities experience their peak demand and incur their highest costs. Thus, solar PV lowers utility power costs during their most expensive period.

HOW SOLAR PV WORKS

Photovoltaic’s is the direct conversion of light into electricity at the atomic level. Some materials exhibit a property known as the photoelectric effect that causes them to absorb photons of light and release electrons. When these free electrons are captured, an electric current results that can be used as electricity.

A French physicist, Edmund Bequerel, first noted the photoelectric effect in 1839, which found that certain materials would produce small amounts of electric current when exposed to light. In 1905, Albert Einstein described the nature of light and the photoelectric effect on which photovoltaic technology is based, for which he later won a Nobel Prize in physics. Bell Laboratories built the first photovoltaic module in 1954. It was billed as a solar battery and was mostly just a curiosity as it was too expensive to gain widespread use. In the 1960s, the space industry began to make the first serious use of the technology to provide power aboard spacecraft. Through the space programs, the technology advanced, its reliability was established, and the cost began to decline. During the energy crisis in the 1970s, photovoltaic technology gained recognition as a source of power for non-space applications.

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SOLAR = JOBS

It is indisputable that renewable energy, and solar energy in particular, represent an important part of our future energy mix in the United States. Even if environmental impacts are completely removed from the equation, renewable energy represents an important contribution to our nation’s economic and strategic success. Improved domestic energy security, less exposure to fluctuations in commodity fuel prices, and significant growth in white collar and blue collar jobs are just a few of the benefits gained by enacting policies that enable renewable energy. Renewable energy job growth has exceeded the national figures during the past two years, and represents the largest single growth industry. Today, the clean energy sector employs more Americans than the fossil fuel industry.

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