When it comes to solar energy advantages, we’ve heard it all: It’s for hippies, it’s too expensive or it doesn’t work. Yet more solar energy systems are being installed on homes and businesses than ever. We explain some FAQs about the advantages of solar energy.
Advantages of Solar Energy
1. Solar is a proven technology.
The history of photovoltaic solar power began with scientific experimentation during the late 1800s. The first PV silicon cell capable of converting the sun’s energy into power that could run electrical equipment was introduced in 1954, and by 1983, worldwide PV production exceeded 21 megawatts. Currently, there are 47.1 gigawatts of total solar capacity installed nationwide, so it’s safe to say solar is a proven technology and that its adoption as a source of clean energy will continue.
SunPower‘s long history in the industry is an advantage as we’ve had plenty of time to perfect and improve our solar products. The company has been in business for more than 30 years and globally has installed more than 8.2 gigawatts. That’s more than 25 million solar panels! SunPower® solar panels are the most efficient, durable technology on the market, with an expected useful life of more than 40 years.1
2. Solar works in many climates.
Many people believe that solar won’t work in colder climates. That’s not true. Solar panels actually work more efficiently in colder temperatures because excessive heat can reduce the output voltage. While more hours of direct sun exposure will indeed help a solar system generate more electricity, modern panels are quite efficient and can still generate energy in low-light situations. Someone living in Seattle, for example, just may need a somewhat larger solar array to get the same results as someone in Southern California. Bottom line: Solar works anywhere there is daylight. (For more, read How Solar Energy Works.)
3. Solar is more affordable than ever.
The price of a solar system has dropped significantly. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, the cost dropped 9 percent, and prices continue to decline. In many markets worldwide, solar power is less expensive than conventional energy. There are a variety of financial incentives available, such as tax rebates and state policies, that help make going solar affordable for more families and businesses. There are also a variety of solar financing options, from no-money-down leasing2 to home improvement loans that make solar more affordable. With SunPower, you can buy, lease or finance a solar power system. If you purchase a solar power system in the United States, you may be eligible for a 30 percent federal income tax credit and other local incentives.3
Businesses, schools and government entities may also qualify to use federal investment tax credits or accelerated depreciation for commercial solar panels.
4. Solar energy benefits the whole electricity grid.
Around the world, excess solar energy can be used by the conventional utility grid, reducing the burden on the whole, and, depending on local policies, the solar owner may even be compensated for that contribution via, for example, feed-in tariffs in some international markets such as Japan and parts of Europe. In most U.S. states, there are net metering policies. Net metering is a billing strategy that essentially pays solar users for their surplus electricity by giving them credit against their use of the electrical grid at night. (For more, read about net metering here.)
5. Solar panels have a long lifespan.
Solar panels are quite durable and can withstand even harsh weather conditions, including the impact of hail up to one inch in diameter. Only 1-in-20,000 SunPower panels are ever returned.4 Check out this video about why SunPower panels are so long-lasting.
7. Solar panels can increase home values.
One of the advantages of solar energy is that the addition of PV panels generally increases home values. A recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory analyzed about 22,000 home sales, almost 4,000 of which use PV solar systems in eight states. It found that a typical PV system added about $15,000 in value. 5
8. Solar is a nonpartisan energy source.
Solar isn’t just for hippies. It is being embraced by people across the entire sociopolitical spectrum. Homeowners covering all demographics; Fortune 500 and oil companies; and governments and schools across the world continue to install solar energy systems. Mainstream banks are financing solar. Progressive solar policies have been driven at the state level by Republicans and Democrats alike. The environmental benefits of solar power are undeniable, but it’s being embraced widely because it makes good financial sense.