Many people get a clean feeling when thinking of solar power—blue skies, clean air, bright rays, a sense of being free and peaceful. A lot of owners of businesses or managers of organizations aspire to as much use of solar power as possible, often sold on the cost-saving benefits and the opportunity to do something great for the environment.
Well, they’re right about that, and those two benefits of solar power will be the focus of our discussion here.
One thing that attracts a lot of people—in terms of savings—is major tax benefits. It may be the case that these benefits are for businesses rather than non-profits, but even without these breaks, non-profits that use solar energy save plenty of money.
The first question is, of course, how does the cost of solar energy compare to a monthly electric bill. There are constructs that put the savings on bills as high as 72% of a typical energy bill. Depending on the initial investment on the installation of the solar infrastructure, it shouldn’t take long to make back the investment. Once you make back your intitial investment, you of course save thousands of dollars per year.
Collective Sun’s initiatives can help non-profits fund their installations and get straight to the savings.
Solar systems with the highest efficiency, that generate the most power for the longest time save the most money. Savings can be measured in terms of price per watt generated, but the longevity of the system is where the savings come in.
Ask anyone and they’ll say that solar energy is good for the environment. But what does that mean, exactly. Good how?
Perhaps the biggest environmental benefit of solar power is the reduction of carbon dioxide, which is the culprit in global warming. Solarcity.com breaks it down by telling us that a solar system for a family (much less a non-profit) saves, in a year, carbon emissions equal to:
- 12.1 tons of coal
- driving a car 125,000 miles
- the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by 60 trees
An analogous calculation using the EPA’s emissions calculator shows that cutting out 20,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year (a good estimate for a non-profit’s use, since it’s twice the amount used by the average home in 2012) would reduce emissions equivalent to:
- 1,522 gallons of gas consumed
- 32.1 barrels of oil consumed
- and the emissions of 3 passenger vehicles
Only when thousands of businesses, organizations, and families take major steps like a switch to solar will we achieve the sort of reduction in emissions we need.
While cutting back on carbon emissions fights global warming, it also reduces air pollution.
We know that one of the major natural sources of electricity is coal. The burning of coal spews carbon dioxide, mercury compounds, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide into the air. And it gets worse, since the process of turning the coal into electricity generates even more emissions.
The processes that send pollutants into the air also send them into the water, which means that the present forms of energy are bad for water quality as well. All stages in the production of fossil fuel electricity produce discharges into the local groundwater. Thus, the large scale use of clean power, that which doesn’t create any discharge at all, would have large healing effects on water quality.
While global warming may have catastrophic effects on climates and ecosystems, air quality and water quality, though not often as touted or valued, are extremely important for health.
One might feel that it’s worth it to spend a little extra money to help the environment. But solar power doesn’t necessitate such a choice. Its implementation is both cost-effective and healing to the world around us.