The first Earth Day was held April 22, 1970 to demonstrate global support for environmental protection. Fast forward 47 years, and we still celebrate Earth Day, but greenhouse gas emissions have doubled. The population, which was hovering at a little over three billion in 1970, has also doubled, according to an article by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
Now for some good news: Another number that’s doubled, according to SEIA, is the U.S. solar power industry. In 2016 alone, solar doubled in size with manufacturing, installations, jobs, and more. As the industry grows, so do niches, such as solar labeling and signage to keep solar PV manufacturers, installers, and users safe.
Top Five Solar Energy Advantages
SEIA states that the largest corporate solar users in the U.S., including heavy-hitters like Target, Walmart, and Apple, now have solar power at nearly 2,000 individual installations nationwide, providing more than one gigawatt (GW) of solar capacity, enough to power almost 200,000 homes. Even the Kentucky Mining Museum, a living homage to coal energy, flipped the switch from coal power to solar recently, in hopes of saving energy costs.
If your facility is on the fence about going solar, Earth Day marks a great time to give solar a second look. Here’s why:
- Solar power is clean - Its renewable process produces no harmful emissions that hurt the environment. The energy used to produce the PV cells pays for itself soon after panels are installed. Experts say that Energy Pay-Back Time (EPBT) is between 6 and 18 months, depending on the type.
- Unlike fossil fuels, the sun is forever - Well, almost. We will have access to solar energy for as long as the sun is alive, which NASA says will be another 6.5 billion years. The galaxy’s hardest working and most famous star—the sun—is here for the long haul.
- There’s a lot of it - The surface of the earth receives 120,000 terawatts of solar radiation or sunlight, which equates to 20,000 times more power than what is needed to supply electricity for the entire world, according to the website Energy Informative.
- Solar power is sustainable - Sometimes we misuse the true definition of sustainability, but solar fits the bill: It meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
- Solar power is quiet and safe - There is no noise associated with PV systems, and without a lot of moving parts involved, solar power is safe. That said, installations do require safety precautions as outlined in the Solar Power Hazards and Safety Infographic produced by Graphic Products.
What Your Solar Installer Needs to Know
While new solar installations are coming online every single day, safety is a big consideration. Graphic Products has a number of resources available to installers, including 5 Installation Practices You Need to Know and current solar standards as set forth by the National Electrical Code (NEC), with changes as recent as 2017.