Is the future lit up for Solar Energy?
Solar energy is indeed the future for both the environment and increasing the employment ratio. According to a study by the US Department of Energy (DOE), the United States is projected to provide 40% of the country’s electricity by 2035. It can go up to 45% by 2050 with the use of solar power.
Solar energy can indeed play a significant role in reducing carbon emissions by switching to clean energy. As the demand for electricity is likely to grow 30% in the coming years, transferring to clean energy will create more jobs. You can expect the availability of 3 million American jobs and reduced consumer electricity bills.
Solar panels that are most used
There are several sets of solar light technologies employed, but the ones more used include:
- • Photovoltaic (PV) devices: Photovoltaic devices include solar panels that directly turn sunlight into electricity using semiconductors.
- • Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Plants : CSP uses mirrors to navigate the sun’s light to a central point. This central point is where enough heat is produced to fuel steam turbines or engines to create electricity.
- • Solar Heating and Cooling (SHC) systems: SHC takes thermal heat from the sun to heat water and create air conditioning. This process replaced the need for electricity or natural gas.
Solar power does not produce greenhouse gasses that burning coal usually causes, leading to global warming. According to John Kerry, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, solar and wind power are the most affordable sources of new electricity generation in several countries. These account for 77% of global GDP.
US cities that enjoy the yearly glory of sunshine
The eighth Shining Cities survey from Environment California's Research & Policy Center indicates that several cities or states of America are investing in solar energy. Furthermore, 20-40% of the solar power system’s output is exported back into the electricity grid. This provides the local consumers with clean energy and saves money too.
Making it to the top of the list is the Hawaiian city of Honolulu. The city has more than 1,000 Watts of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity per person. Along with 15 other US cities, Honolulu has earned the title of Solar Superstars as they have more than 100 Watts of capacity per resident.
The other cities included are as below based on per capita rank:
- • Las Vegas
- • San Diego
- • Albuquerque
- • San Jose
- • San Antonio
- • Burlington
- • New Orleans
- • Phoenix
- • Washington
- • Riverside
- • Denver
- • Salt Lake City
- • Los Angeles
- • Sacramento
- • Indianapolis
- • Newark
- • Hartford
- • Charleston
The ‘Solar Stars’ with over 50 Watts per person include 34 cities earning this title. Next are the ‘Solar Builders’ which have 25-50 Watts of solar PV installed per person.
Types of solar incentives and tax benefit offers in some US cities
The different types of solar incentives offered are:
- • Tax credits: a portion of the project cost is deducted from your tax obligation.
- • Rebates: Partial refund given to the owner after purchasing the solar panel system.
- • Low-interest loans: Loans for renewable energy projects with below-market rates are given at reduced interest rates.
- • Property tax relief: In a few states, solar systems are exempt from property taxes.
- • SREC: Solar Renewable Energy Certificates where credit is offered to homeowners for the solar energy they generate.
- • Performance-Based Incentives (PBIs): An incentive, awarding a flat-rate payout for every kWh of solar energy produced.
The Solar ITC or Investment Tax Credit is provided for all residents of the United States who owe federal taxes. You can claim a portion of your solar installation costs on your tax return. This will deduct the amount you owe when you file your federal taxes in that year. The ITC provides a major incentive; for instance, you get a credit of $2,600 on a $10,000 solar project.
State and city-level programs are also available to encourage using solar power on a local level. The state and local programs stack with the federal incentive, so you get more on your savings.Does the future look bright for solar panels? Indeed, it does! Saving power will empower more states in the years to come.