When it comes to different sources of energy, it’s safe to say that solar is getting most of the buzz these days. It’s easy to see why. Solar is entirely free of a lot of the detrimental qualities that come with the use of other energy sources, especially from nuclear or coal. It’s also one of the more cost-effective energy options, and for good reason—after all, sunlight is free. But many homeowners and business owners still haven’t made the jump to solar power for their buildings. It’s true that solar usage has skyrocketed in recent years, thanks to the proliferation of affordable solar equipment. According to one recent study, there are more than 1.3 million solar installations across the United States today. But with more than 126 million households in the U.S., it’s clear that we have a long way to go before we can boast of having a solar-powered nation. What’s holding us back?
One of the most common questions first-time customers have is how solar compares to other available energy sources in terms of cost, safety, productivity, and other factors. Becoming educated about these differences can be helpful if you’re deciding whether going solar is the right for you. Here is a breakdown of the various differences between solar and some of the other most widely used energy sources in the United States:
Solar Energy vs. Fossil Fuels
Despite the growing popularity of solar power, for most Americans, the most popular energy source remains fossil fuels—coal, petroleum, and natural gas. In terms of the amount of energy that can be stored up and used later, fossil fuels are far more productive than solar. However, fossil fuels are extremely destructive to the environment in multiple ways. When they’re burned, fossil fuels create carbon emissions that contribute to the greenhouse effect. The mining of fossil fuels also has a negative impact on the surrounding environment. Solar power, on the other hand, does not produce any emissions—harmful or otherwise. Unlike fossil fuels, which are a limited resource, solar is also infinitely replenishable.
Solar Energy vs. Nuclear
While there are fewer than one hundred nuclear power plants in the United States, it remains a popular domestic energy source. One of the factors to keep in mind with solar is that it can only be generated when the sun is in the sky. This means that current solar systems don’t generate as much energy as nuclear power plants, which can continue to run 24 hours a day. Nuclear energy, like solar, also does not produce any carbon emissions. However, nuclear power also presents the problem of dealing with radioactive waste, which remains dangerous for thousands of years after it is produced. The uranium mining necessary for nuclear power is also hazardous to the environment, and though rare, nuclear accidents can be devastatingly harmful. None of these issues exist with solar energy, which produces no hazardous waste and is not associated with any dangerous accidents.
Solar Energy vs. Wind
Along with solar, wind power is probably the most prominent type of renewable energy in use today. Wind power shares some of solar’s most notable strengths. It can be generated without mining, it produces no emissions, and it’s fueled by a source that is both free and endlessly renewable. However, wind is not as universally available as sunlight. Wind farms need to be constructed in certain locations in order to be productive. The energy output of solar installations is generally more predictable than that of wind installations. Wind turbines may also be noisy, and can be dangerous to birds and bats. Solar installations, by comparison, can be placed almost anywhere, and operate very quietly. While wind turbines can be large and obtrusive, solar installations tend to blend neatly into their surroundings. For these reasons, many people strongly believe that solar, rather than wind, is the most promising renewable energy source.
If you’re thinking of going solar in your home or business, it’s time to get in touch with Custom Solar and Leisure. We have been proudly serving the greater Tucson area since we first opened more than a decade ago, and we work to provide state-of-the-art energy solutions at reasonable prices. Our team strives to provide each and every one of our customers with reliable, first-rate service. If you’d like to schedule a free solar evaluation for your building, give us a call today at (520) 314-3768.