Benefits of Having a Solar Energy System
Updated: Jun 24, 2020
Nowadays, we cannot live anymore without our mobile phones, our computers. Indeed, advancements in technology have already drastically changed how we live our lives. But did you know that there is one very important aspect of our lives that still uses a technology that is 140 years old? And that is with our main energy source, which is coal energy. Yes, there have also been improvements to the technology used in extracting energy from coal, but there is a limit to it because the coal that we are using is still the same coal that was first used 140 years ago.
Fortunately for us, we now have a newer, cleaner and better energy source at our disposal in the form of photovoltaic (solar panels) and solar energy. But since it is a relatively new technology, many are still not aware of the many benefits of having a solar panel installation on your home.
Read on below to know the benefits of having solar panels or a solar energy system on your home.
Solar Energy is Clean and Renewable
With climate change making more and more destructive weather events all across the world, we know that it is inevitable that we find a replacement for our current energy sources as soon as possible. The mess that we are in right now in terms of our climate situation started in the 18th century with the invention of the steam engine, which was powered by coal.
By burning coal, we disrupt our planet’s natural carbon cycle by releasing the carbon content of coal in our atmosphere in the form of Carbon Dioxide. This increases the amount of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere, which then traps heat from the sun and warms our entire planet.
Fortunately, solar energy is both clean and renewable.
Clean – solar energy does not produce any emissions of any harmful greenhouse gases in its operation. Also, by using solar panels on a solar energy system, you reduce the amount of energy that you buy from your electric grid, therefore reducing our total emissions. Even though the amount of solar energy that you will produce on your roof is very small compared to our total energy consumption, with our combined efforts, we can make a change.
Renewable – a renewable energy source is one that is from a fuel that is inexhaustible. Examples of these are sunlight, rain, wind, waves, tides and geothermal heat. This is very important for an energy source because it means that we do not have to worry about running out of fuel. For traditional fossil fuel energy sources such as coal, the majority of costs come from mining, refining, and transport of fuel. Since this is not a problem for renewable energy sources, they have the potential of being much cheaper.
Since we already know that we can’t forever rely on fossil fuel energy sources such as coal, replacing it with a cleaner and better energy source becomes inevitable. And since solar energy is the only energy source that can be utilized by single households, it has become one of the top choices for possible replacements for coal.
As they say: “money makes the world go round.” Because of this, just being the cleanest energy source would still not be enough to solve our energy problems. It must also be financially feasible. Fortunately, solar panel costs have continuously dropped due to improvements in photovoltaics or solar panel technology and manufacturing techniques and processes. Because of this, grid parity for solar energy has already been achieved in most countries all over the world. This basically means that solar energy has officially already been cheaper than the electricity from the grid.
Right now, solar energy systems have already become an option for homeowners that want to save up from their monthly electric bills. Since the sun shines basically anywhere in the world, there is no limitation on which houses can utilize solar energy systems effectively.
To understand in detail how you can save up from your monthly electric bills, you will have to understand a few concepts relating to solar energy systems:
Our electric grid has been designed only for unidirectional electricity transmission, which is from the electric grid to our houses. However, with renewable energy such as solar energy systems, homeowners are given the ability to generate power right on top of their very homes. This opens the possibility for electricity to flow from the houses back to the electric grid. To accommodate this change, a net metering scheme was created.
Net metering is a mechanism where homeowners are allowed to export or sell back energy back to the grid and even get credit for it through their monthly electric bills. Since a solar energy system generates energy when there is sunlight, there may be times when it will produce a lot of energy but the total energy consumption of your household is low. In these cases, the excess energy will then be exported back to the electric grid. Your electricity provider will then credit you with an amount that is equal to the total exported energy multiplied by the feed-in-tariff in your location.
When your solar energy system produces energy, your household appliances’ priority is to consume that energy first. If it is not enough, that will be the only time that you will buy energy from the grid. When your solar energy system produces too much energy, the excess is exported and sold back to the grid.
Self-Consumption vs. Exported Energy
Self-consumption refers to the energy from your solar energy system that you consume. On the other hand, export energy refers to the excess energy from your solar energy system that you export to or sell back to the electric grid.
This means that the energy that goes into your self-consumption will be worth the same as the price per kWh of electricity from the grid. This is because instead of buying electricity from the grid at this price, you get the energy from your solar energy system instead.
On the other hand, for some countries including the Philippines and Australia, exported energy is worth less than your self-consumption. Remember that when you export or sell energy back energy to the grid, you get credit for it through your monthly electric bills. The problem is that you get credited at a price per kWh that is lower than the total price of electricity. For example, in the Philippines, the price of electricity is around 10 pesos per kWh. However, you only get credited for around 5 pesos per kWh. There are also other countries like the US, where the exported energy is credited with the same price as the price of electricity from the grid.
This is why in sizing a solar energy system for your home, which is determining the optimum number of solar panels to be installed, it is very important to consider in detail your hourly consumption pattern to get an estimate of the self-consumption and exported energy that will result from your solar energy system.
How Much Can You Save
How much you can save depends on whether your exported energy will be credited at a price that is lower than the actual price of electricity from the grid or at the same price. In the case that it is the same price as the electricity from the grid, you can easily save 100% from your monthly electric bill by having a solar energy system that produces as much energy per month as your monthly electric consumption.