Solar energy has been fascinating all of us for some time now. We’ve heard the talks about its benefits, and we’ve seen our neighbors setting up solar panels in their homes.
But what is it? More importantly, why has it become a center point for the United State’s economy in recent years?
Before we dive into answering all these questions, let’s do a quick recap of what we know of solar energy, what it is, and why it is essential.
In its simplest form, solar energy is the heat and light from the Sun that can then be harnessed and used in multiple ways.
Considering that the Sun is always going to be around (hopefully), we can gauge that it is the most abundant energy source found on Earth. Not only that, but it is also the most powerful – the energy Sun provides to the Earth for one hour could meet the global energy needs for a whole year.
In recent times, there has been an undoubted keenness in opting for solar energy methods. In stark contrast to historical times, solar energy is easily accessible now and incredibly beneficial for both you and the planet.
How Does Solar Energy Work?
Simply put, the primary process behind using solar energy as a resource is to convert the light captured from the Sun into electricity.
For this purpose, solar panels are installed on your rooftops, which use solar energy to generate Direct Current electricity and then convert it into Alternating Current electricity using a solar inverter.
Why Is Solar Energy Important?
You may have already understood that solar energy is an essential resource for all of humanity. The fact is that it comes with a plethora of benefits that significantly impact your lives, the economy, and the planet.
The most significant thing about solar energy is that it’s a renewable energy resource. What does this mean? Well, like aforementioned, we are not likely to run out of solar energy anytime soon.
As long as we have the Sun (which, according to scientists, is for 5 billion years at the very least), solar energy will be accessible to us. This means that solar energy can be harnessed and utilized every day, anywhere in the world, unlike other resources.
The Significantly Reduced Cost of Solar Energy
Another thing that makes it such a desirable option is the cost factor. Although the initial installation of solar panels may be expensive, it comes with the unmitigated advantage of decreasing your energy bills.
This is because since you will primarily be using electricity generated by your solar energy system. There is a possibility even to earn money using your system. The surplus energy you export back to the grid may lead to you receiving payments.
This is especially effective considering how the maintenance of solar energy systems does not require a lot of investment to begin with. They usually come with 20-25 years of warranty, and the only thing you must do is clean them a few times per year. So, once the installation process is completed, you will have to spend very little on keeping your panels.
Industries Are Investing in Solar Energy
Solar power is also significant concerning the future. More and more industries are investing in solar power’s technological advancement, working with quantum physics and nanotechnology to improve these solar resources’ efficiency.
As a result of continued advancement in this regard, the cost of installing solar panels and generating solar energy has significantly decreased. The constant designing and redesigning of structures that supplement harnessing energy is bound to ensure that renewable energy, especially solar power, becomes even more accessible in upcoming years.
The Rise of Solar Energy in the United States
Solar power is becoming increasingly prevalent in the United States. One reason behind this is that solar panels are a lot more reasonably priced than they once were. It was not very long ago that there was substantial uncertainty about solar energy’s effectiveness, mainly attributable to the handsome investment it demanded.
To understand better, picture this: the same solar panel that cost around 8.50 dollars per watt in 2009 now costs only about $2.98. The decrease in costs has made solar energy considerably more accessible than it once was. Hence, installations of solar panels in the U.S. have expanded to a whopping 62.5 gigawatts today! This capacity, surprisingly enough, can conveniently power the equivalent of 12 million average American homes.
The decrease in cost and other factors such as increased competition in supply chains and favorable political conditions gave rise to solar energy use. This trend entails a multitude of benefits for the U.S. economy.
As solar energy becomes more of a crowd-pleaser with each passing day, industries worldwide are making active efforts to accommodate it on multiple levels. Some states, such as California, Hawaii, and Minnesota, have succeeded in making solar power more financially comparable and thus “economically competitive” to other energy sources.
The advantages derived from the solar power industry can be far-fetching for the economy. For example, the initiative serves as a tool for the employment of many. Since 2010, there has been a staggering 160% increase in solar jobs – today, there are over 242,000 solar workers in the U.S. In 2015, the industry added new jobs 12 times faster than any other U.S. economic sector.
It is noteworthy that the solar industry has added highly skilled jobs to the U.S. economy every year. All in all, the solar power sectors act as incubators of employment for many of the American majority. Moreover, such upsurge has also encouraged several businesses to become a part of the industry; now, thousands of small businesses cater to the nation’s solar needs.
Perhaps because of these lucrative insights, investment and development in the renewable energy sector remain sparkling, despite the apparent blow the Covid-19 pandemic has inflicted on the industry. In “Expectations for Renewable Energy Finance in 2020-2023”, the new analysis by ACORE, investors have been reported to be adamant about the future growth and improvement of the renewable energy sector.
In addition to this, America’s corporate segment is also actively willing to invest in solar energy. This movement is led by big names such as Apple, Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Google. A report released in July 2019 by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) informed that the 7,000 megawatts of installed solar capacity represented many commercial installation projects. These included utility-scale solar panels and rooftop systems, solar parking canopies, and solar installations powering critical data centers.
The fact that giant American corporations are willing to invest in and cultivate solar energy is an indicator that the renewable energy sector at large is beginning to make economic sense at a monumental scale.
So, where is the Room for Improvement?
As you may have deciphered by now, it is an inarguable fact that solar energy in the U.S. has progressed in the most remarkable ways. Not only does it make life convenient for you, but it also has a beneficial impact on the economy.
However, despite this advancement, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in the solar industry. Post-COVID, at least 14% of the renewable energy workforce is unemployed, whereas developers in this area claim to have had difficulty financing solar-based projects.
The pandemic has caused at least somewhat of a setback for what had been a linear advancement of renewable energy, especially the solar power industry. To counter these challenges, strict policies and plans focusing on the solar sector’s refurbishment must be introduced. Along with this, annual investment in the solar energy sector must be increased, with special attention given to grid technologies and other forms of energy storage. Experts estimate that an average investment of $87.5 billion a year would be needed to enable the most efficient of grid technologies.
Our Final Word
If not all over the world, the solar power industry in the United States is an up-and-coming sector in every regard. People want to develop, finance, and buy solar energy. The reasons, as we have discussed, are multifold.
It makes economic sense, which encourages corporations and markets to invest in it. Even more so, it is a beautiful resource of renewable power that ensures a climate-friendly solution to the world’s increasing demand for energy.
Therefore, the key take is that our booming energy industry ensures America’s economic success and contributes to the ongoing combat against the climate crisis.