The health benefits of going solar

Francisco CastroMay 14, 20192600

They help lower the cost of your electricity bill and free you from total dependence on utilities to power your home, but solar panels can also represent plenty of health benefits.

You’ll be breathing cleaner air, fighting summer heat and living in less polluted environments.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), solar power could deliver $400 billion in environmental and public health benefits in the United States by 2050.

Already, solar power is delivering annual benefits in these categories of $1.5 billion. 

Those benefits include:

Annual reduction of 17 million metric tons of CO2, which is, based on the central estimate of the social cost of carbon, "equivalent to an annual global benefit of $700 million."

Annual reductions of "10,000, 10,300, and 1,200 metric tons of SO2, NOx, and PM2.5 (fine particulate matter or particulate pollution), respectively ... which provide annual domestic air quality benefits of $890 million."

Annual water "withdrawal and consumption savings of 294 billion gallons (0.8% of power sector total) and 7.6 billion gallons (0.5% or power sector total), respectively, with much of those savings located in drought-impacted California."

In fact, better health outcomes from reducing pollutants can prevent unnecessary health care costs and save more than 25,000 lives, according to the report from NREL.

“Scientists predict significant changes to Earth’s climate due to past and future GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions, including higher average temperatures, increased frequency and intensity of some types of extreme weather, rising sea levels, and ocean acidification..these changes are expected to impose a wide range of damages globally and in the United States: threatening human health and wellbeing through more-extreme weather and wildfires as well as decreased air quality; putting infrastructure at risk; jeopardizing water quality and supply; disrupting agricultural production; and negatively affecting ecosystems and biodiversity,” the report states.

Pollution and your health

Common energy sources, such as oil, coal, and gas, emit dangerous chemicals like sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide into the air. Through the installation of solar panels on your home, you not only protect the environment around you, but your own health. 

Studies have shown that the pollutants listed above can cause severe respiratory problems, including asthma, bronchitis, pulmonary inflammation, and chronic respiratory disease, as well as the propensity for heart attacks and strokes.

Protecting water sources

Another benefit of solar power is the preservation of water sources. According to Inside Energy, the electricity sector uses 143 billion gallons of freshwater a day to run power plants. Coal plants typically use 20 to 50 gallons of water to produce one kilowatt-hour of electricity.

Solar panels, on the other hand, do not need water to generate electricity. Given how scarce a resource water is and how many countries are battling severe cases of drought every year, this is one of the most important environmental benefits of solar power.

In addition, water contamination can also be detrimental to your health. For instance, coal produces the largest amount of mercury emissions into the air and they also make their way into the groundwater, reaching streams, lakes and oceans, affecting the fish in the water. when humans consume mercury-contaminated fish, it can cause irreversible neurological damage, especially in pregnant women and young children. This is so damaging that the EPA recommends women and young children limit their consumption of certain types of fish.

Another benefit of solar power and fighting climate change is that nature is better preserved.  Climate change has caused plant extinctions across the world, being blamed for 46% of the extinctions of 976 species studied.  Solar power doesn’t have the landscape-altering effect that tidal and wind power have.

“It is important to recognize that the environmental and health benefits of solar are strongly dependent on not only the amount of solar deployment but also the location of that deployment—solar that displaces higher-emitting coal generation has substantially larger benefits than solar that displaces lower-emitting gas-fired,” the NREL report indicates. 

And solar power is achieving this.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, solar module prices dropped by 35% last year because of increased global competition, all of which implies more and more solar installations around the world. 

That means the price of a residential solar panel installation is now more affordable than ever. 

If you want to join the renewable energy revolution, you can start by finding out the correct size of a solar power system for your home and what it will cost. To do so, all you have to do is access the Hahasmart price checker, where in just a matter of seconds - by inputting your address and monthly electricity bill - you’ll get a detailed quote that shows how how much you can expect to save on your energy bill throughout the life of the solar power system. The price checker will even help you contact a reliable solar installer in your area. 

Another health benefit that comes from solar is in recycling. Up to 90 percent of the key materials in photovoltaic solar cells (silicon and cadmium telluride) can be reused to produce new solar cells right away.

That means less waste and chemicals seeping into the ground. And your solar panels will last nearly 30 years, so you don’t have to worry about replacing them right away.

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