April 24, 2019 | climate change | Write comment

Every solar installation helps the climate

Your solar install does help the climate - here’s how.

Every building has emissions

4Around the world, buildings account for 39% of global warming emissions.

If you have solar or a small wind turbine already, then your home is now part of the solution. If not, you may perhaps be contributing more than your share of climate pollution associated with the energy you consume.

If your home isn’t well-suited to solar, there are ways to offset your energy with carbon credits or subscribe to a clean energy source offsite. If your home is a good candidate for going solar, you can slash your carbon footprint while making a smart investment by purchasing a solar installation, that’s pollution-free and lasts for many decades.

Let’s take a closer look at how every household solar installation cuts emissions.

 

Grid energy mix determines pollution reduction from going solar

 

Existing DVP resources 2018 (2)

For customers of Dominion Energy, for example, their energy mix is still over half fossil fuels. Take a look at this chart to see the breakdown. While big businesses are coming into Virginia and asking for renewable energy to serve their facilities, the utility remains clearly dependent on fracked gas and coal-fired power plants.

 

DVP generation capacity 2018 irp (2)

 

What better way to directly reduce your impact, and send a loud message to the power company that you expect them to develop clean solar energy faster, than buy getting your own solar energy installation at your home or business.

Solar has other benefits for society too, including creating good-paying, skilled jobs for installation crews, office staff, and other roles, diversifying the grid and creating a distributed energy resource that reduces transmission and distribution costs, and the intangible but valuable way it enlists communities in reconnecting to their energy sources, much like urban farming or school gardens connect people to food sources.

 

How can you know how much carbon your solar has saved?

With today's new solar installations, standard packages from many solar installers include monitoring, also known as data reporting, with an easy to use online interface. On top of being able to keep an eye on your solar production and how you're using it (if consumption monitoring is included, which Ipsun Solar does) you can view a tally of the lifetime environmental benefits of the solar energy you made.

 

Consumption Screen Enphase

Impatient to get an idea of your potential to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by going solar? Your initial solar proposal that your solar sales representative gives you during the solar consultation process will contain projections for the amount of energy you can produce annually and over the next 25 years with solar panels. This includes estimates for the environmental benefits of your solar. Here's an example.

 

solargraf example (2)

 

Will solar make 100% of my electric bill green?

Whether you can offset your whole energy footprint with solar comes down to basically two things: How much roof space you have available to cover with solar panels, and how much energy you use (and how much of it is electric versus natural gas heat or cooking). That calculus will determine your fossil fuel offset potential.

If you’re powering an electric car with your solar, it’s also reducing demand for oil and making the air quality in your community healthier and safer. If you don’t yet have your electric car yet but you plan to get one in the future, your solar installers should be able to request that your utility approve extra solar capacity to account for the added energy demand, or you can ask for your solar installation to be set up in such a way as to allow for expansion by adding panels when you get the electric car, or other big energy using devices.

 

Solar is spreading and cutting emissions everywhere it goes

 

Beyond direct emissions benefits, buildings with solar set an example in the community and immediately become landmarks that prompt others to follow. Initiatives are currently underway to encourage solarizing all kinds of buildings, from churches and schools to data centers and breweries.

Anytime you can do something to support a solar project near you or help a friend find out more about solar, you're voting for more clean energy in your community. Thanks for reading resources from local installers and helping us stay strong.

When you go solar, you’re joining a community of solar customers who can activate and engage around policy improvements and reforms that make it easier and more economic for new customers to follow. Our past solar customers like Bonny, George and Kim, and Father Tim's church are all happy to be reducing their climate pollution with solar. If they can, so can you!

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Hannah Wiegard
Hannah Wiegard

Professional clean energy advocate/marketer since 2010. Native Virginian. When not writing in this space, spends time cooking, gardening and evangelizing friends at cocktail parties about the benefits of solar.