Renewable Energy Sources: Solar Power
What is solar power?
Solar power is a renewable and environmentally friendly option for energy production. Solar power works by utilizing a photovoltaic system to capture sunlight using solar panels. When the sun shines onto a solar panel, energy from the sunlight is absorbed by the photovoltaic cells in the panel. This energy creates electrical charges that move in response to an internal electrical field in the cell, causing electricity to flow.
The sun is so powerful that even though only a small percentage of its energy actually reaches Earth, it can be used to run a large thermal electric generation power plant. In this type of plant, heat energy is collected from the sun using curved mirrors that evaporate water into steam that then spins electricity-generating turbines.
Solar power in Ohio
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), as of mid-2022, Ohio ranked 25th nationwide in solar power generation capacity, with around 107,207 Ohio homes powered by solar energy and .0091 percent of the state’s electricity generated by solar power. From 2012 to 2022, prices for solar fell 53 percent.
The state is heavily involved with producing solar panels and other materials needed to harness solar power. In 2021, Ohio had nearly 7,411 solar industry jobs, and is home to more than 205 solar companies. Solar is projected to grow rapidly in Ohio in the next few years. For an overview of solar power in Ohio visit www.seia.org.
National solar power outlook
Solar power has seen rapid growth nationwide. According to SEIA and the US Department of Energy, solar power generation has increased from 1.2 gigawatts of production in 2008 to around 130.9 gigawatts in mid-2022. That is enough energy to power 23 million homes. The industry continues to flourish and generally, prices for solar panels have fallen in recent years.
Continued growth in the solar industry is expected as more renewable energy standards and incentives are adopted in the United States. More than 38 states, including Ohio, have adopted Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) legislation that allows property owners to obtain financing for solar projects and pay it back through property taxes over several years. However, only three states offer PACE to residential homeowners and Ohio is not one of them. Tax credits for residential solar installations were recently extended through 2034. Learn more about solar tax credits at www.energy.gov and www.irs.gov.
Pros and cons of solar power
As with many renewable energy resources, solar power is environmentally friendly and does not emit any pollutants.
Using solar power can:
- Allow for production of energy at home; and
- Lower electricity bills.
A residential solar power system can be expensive. A typical installed solar panel system can range in cost from $15,000 to $25,000 depending on scale and location. As demand increases, and financial incentives continue, solar power may be a feasible investment for some. Consumers should carefully weigh the initial costs of installing a solar system versus future savings on their utility bills and make a decision that is right for them.
As with any large investment for their home, consumers considering solar should talk to more than one company, ask for references and check reviews and complaints with organizations such as the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org.
Consumers should always check with their utility about policies and programs for using solar power to earn credits on their electric bill.
For additional information on solar power, visit these organizations:
Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
U.S. Energy Information Administration
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
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