Did you know? Each hour, enough sunlight hits the earth to power the world for one year.
Solar energy is the world’s most abundant source of clean, renewable energy. “Clean” because the photovoltaic effect produces electrons without producing any greenhouse gas emissions, and “renewable” because the energy comes from a source that is naturally replenished.
Every time a solar PV project is constructed, the electrons it produces displace those that would otherwise be generated at conventional power plants – 70% of which burn burn fossil fuels (coal and natural gas) to make power. When fossil fuels are burned, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – known generally as greenhouse gases (GHG) are released into the air. An overabundance of these particular gases causes the greenhouse gas effect, an elevation of the earth’s surface temperature widely believed to trigger damaging climate change.
The environmental value of every solar kilowatt-hour produced can therefore be measured in terms of the amount of GHG equivalents that are avoided. Some sample math to illustrate this:
A one megawatt system (in terms of size, picture the rooftop of an industrial warehouse or around 5 acres of land) produces an average of 1,200,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year. This is enough electricity for more than 100 US homes per annum. Meanwhile, the reduction in GHG emissions is equal to:
- Annual emissions from 160+ passenger vehicles
- Elimination of 300 tons of landfill waste
- 1,900 barrels of oil consumed
Not bad, right?
For more information on clean energy and clean energy resources we recommend the EPA’s Clean Energy website, located here: http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy