The primary benefit of the implementation of solar power remains the lowering of our carbon footprint in our pursuit for a pleasurable and feasible life within the modern world. According to research, "solar power panels generate zero CO2 emissions," (Simple Earth Media 2009). Thus, more focus on the implementation of solar power would drastically reduce the harmful gases being emitted into the atmosphere by traditional power sources. With no carbon dioxide or other harmful greenhouse gases, the application of solar power has great potential to help curb the environmental damage that has already wreaked havoc on the natural ecology of the globe. Thus, research is correct to assert that "A major benefit of substituting biomass for fossil fuels is that, if done in a sustainable fashion it would greatly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases," (Union of Concerned Scientists 2010). This would also help extend the benefits of using power into future generations. Not only would it help curb carbon emissions as they stand today, such usage would set new precedents in terms of environmental consciousness while helping reduce greenhouse gas levels for future generations. Implementing solar energy resources is a plan of the future, while relying on oil and natural gas is becoming evidently clear an obsolete solution of the past.
In addition to its environmental benefits, the implementation of more solar power developments would also include several economic benefits. In an already unstable and vulnerable economy, many are scared to turn towards new technologies that have been basically ignored up until recent years. In addition, many more are very skeptical of increasing the solar power industry based on the negative effect it would have on already dying oil and natural gas industry. Large scale solar power efforts would prove to have a detrimental effect on current oil-based energy employment. Yet, this is a displacement of jobs, and not a complete destruction of them. Thus, turning towards an increased solar energy industry is "not picture-postcard nostalgia, but modern, forward-looking enterprise; not a declining industry, but a major source of new employment," (Scheer 2005:316). It will no doubt have a positive affect on economy in that it will create an entirely new job force. Future years with more weight and effort spent in solar power will lead to the creation of an entirely new major industry that would offer thousands of Americans steady employment in hard economic times.
Jobs will be needed to manufacture, install, and manage solar powered plants and residential set ups. Research states that "What is for certain, though, besides the creation of new industries on both small and large scales, is that there would be considerably more employment," (Scheer 2005:289). Thus, huge economical benefits in terms of opening up new streams of employment would follow with large scale implementations of solar power.
Additionally, solar power will have a powerful effect on the individual in other ways. One major element of public works facilitating solar power is their off the grid system approach which encourages individual investment on behalf of residents within the area. This has been successful based not on large public works projects that create massive solar power plants to feed power to entire cities, but more from the encouragement of individual residents aiming to build their own solar power plants in their back yards or on their rooftops. Such encouragement has come in the way of monetary rewards to spur individuals to seek out solar power autonomously. Tax breaks and credits for businesses and every day Americans has helped spread this strategy and saved larger public works millions of dollars. Additionally, major cities like Los Angeles feature programs where credits given back to residences and business that give excess solar power back to the grid. This rewards individuals, encourages others, and saves everyone money. Thus, more money is saved -- which is a benefit to the economy as a whole.
Moreover. Solar power will prove crucial in our lessening our dependence on petroleum products. According to research, "the world is fettered by the supply chains of a finite, exhaustible resource base, chains which are dragging humanity inexorably into the abyss," (Scheer 2005:37). Solar power would then lessen our dependence on foreign oil and gas, at the same time liberated millions of dollars in energy costs which are being spent overseas, rather than at home in a domestic context. It keeps energy spending domestic and on a small scale, therefore benefiting the individual communities and citizens much more than traditional energy sources. Research states that "The universal availability of renewable resources within the local environment opens up an opportunity which has been increasingly ignored since the Industrial Revolution […] that of harnessing the source and generating the energy on the same site -- or at least in the same region -- where it will be used," (Scheer 2005:67). This then opens up vast opportunities for local communities to benefit from a new emerging industry. Such actions then help increase the national GDP as a whole, because Americans hold their own power assets.
Yet, solar power still proves a heavy investment. Solar panel investment can be incredibly expensive in terms of up-front costs. Simple set ups can end up costing individual citizens thousands of dollars upfront. This has proved one of the major deterrents of individual homeowners and local businesses from making the move towards implementing more sustainable solar practices for acquiring power. Yet, it is absurd "to evaluate the economic potential of energy sources solely on the basis of the capital cost of power generation plant required," (Scheer 2005:76). Much recent research and popular media has shown the enormous saved costs on larger scales after initial investments are implemented (Scheer 2005). These include benefits for residential, business, corporate, municipal, and federal agencies and individuals.
Solar power also offers the potential to put profits back into the hands of individual and corporate investors who place capital in protecting the environment and spurring an entirely new industry. There is the potential for profit from giving back to the grid on a small residential scale. Individuals who take the great pains to invest in solar power on their own dime, and not that of their municipal organization soon realize that there is actually a potential to make profit in their investment. Not only do they save hundreds of dollars, if not thousands of dollars, annually from decimated power costs, they make profits reselling power back into local municipalities. Local residents, who produce more power than they consume through the use of solar power equipment and systems, then actually see a return not only in saved costs but also real profit dollars. This proves a powerful innovator for local governments and municipalities to direct a strategy for encouraging localized movements towards solar power.
With the benefits of solar power also comes an increase of productivity in energy resources, which serves to increase potential profitability of commercialized industries and businesses which aim to spend the big bucks converting to solar power. According to research, "There are greater opportunities for productive energy use where power can be generated at reduced technical cost," (Scheer 2005:81). With less cost spent on actual acquisition of power resources from far distant production hubs over seas, every dollar spent in the solar power industry proves to increase the overall productivity of businesses around the country. Increased productivity also helps local companies and communities maximize profitability.
Solar power is the way of the future. As local and foreign governments move towards more sustainable practices in providing their citizens with usable power. This means increased potential for industries that rely on heavy power, including modern domestic production and potentially even deeper engrained industries such as agriculture. While still having benefits on a large scale, the true power of solar energy rests in its distributed small scale implementations. Not only will individual investments pay off in terms of decimated power costs and even reimbursement from local governments for selling off excess power, implementing solar power on small scales proves the most effective and cost worthy within the national agenda. With the added potential to create vast new sources of employment within a brand new industry, solar power proves one of the most lucrative and sustainable alternatives to the more traditional petroleum industry.
EcoGeneration Solutions. (1999).Monocrystalline silicon. Solar Energy Systems. Retrieved May 17, 2010 from http://www.cogeneration.net/monocrystalline_silicon.htm
Johansson, Thomas B. & Burnham, Laurie. (1993). Renewable Energy: Sources for Fuels and Electricity. Island Press.
Scheer, Hermann. (2005). The Solar Economy: Renewable Energy for a Sustainable Global Future. Earthscan.
Simple Earth Media. (2009). What are the benefits of solar power? Green Living Ideas. Retrieved January 13, 2010 from http://greenlivingideas.com/topics/alternative-energy/solar-energy-photovoltaics/what-are-the-benefits-of-solar-power
Starr, Michael R. & Palz, Willeke. (1983). Photovoltaic Power for Europe: An Assessment Study. 1st ed. Springer Publishing.
Sun Run Inc. (2009). Types of photovoltaic solar panels. Learn About Solar. Retrieved May 17, 2010 from http://www.sunrunhome.com/learn_about_solar/solar_panels/