Currently, relatively few homes in the U.S. get their power from solar energy. However, this situation is changing rapidly as prices for solar panels drop and the technology grows more and more efficient. In fact, February 2016 stands as an important milestone for America’s solar energy industry. This month, the number of U.S. households outfitted with panels should surge past the 1 million mark.
Solar Energy Basics
Solar panels create electricity by converting sunlight’s natural energy inside a series of devices called photovoltaic cells. Conductive plates and wires connected to these cells transfer the generated power to your home’s electrical network. Two problems have plagued the technology in the past: the cost of generating solar power and the efficiency of the typical solar panel. However, in the last decade, these problems have largely been brought under control. Since 2006, the average cost of one watt of solar energy has fallen by close to two-thirds, from $9 to $3.79. And improved panel efficiency now lets the average U.S. household meet over 85 percent of its total electricity needs with solar sources.
Advantages of Solar Energy
Solar energy makes good sense for a number of reasons. First, in most locations, sunlight is a highly abundant, renewable resource. The generation of solar power does not lead to the production of greenhouse gases or any other harmful emissions. It also produces zero noise pollution. Crucially, people who install solar systems in their homes substantially reduce the use of limited, non-renewable fossil fuels, which contribute heavily to greenhouse gas production and help drive the temperature increases associated with global warming.
The One Million Milestone
A decade ago, approximately 30,000 U.S. homes were at least partially powered by solar panels. Now, just ten years later, the number of homes equipped with these panels will soon surpass 1 million. And many signs point to a much more rapid spread of the technology in the future. For example, much of the increase in use has occurred in just the past few years, and this accelerated pace will likely continue. Underlying factors here include the rapidly dropping cost of installing an effective household system and a continuing fall in the cost of solar energy generation. Some experts predict that, by 2017, most of the country’s population will pay no more for home-generated solar energy than they now pay for the power produced by local utility companies.
If you’re considering the installation of a home solar energy system, consultation with an expert will help you answer any questions you may have. An expert can also help you design a system that meets your specific household needs. For ongoing information on solar energy-related topics, make sure to bookmark this blog and visit us regularly.