Is Solar Energy Renewable? Tips for Homeowners

Renewable vitality is vitality from pure sources that replenish at a better fee than we devour them. They’re an important device to fight local weather change and may create a extra equitable world. Wind, hydropower, and geothermal vitality are examples of renewable vitality, however is photo voltaic vitality renewable? 

Whether or not you reside in a home in Columbia, MD, or an condominium in Boston, learn on to find out about photo voltaic vitality, the way it compares to different vitality sources, and the way we harness it to energy our properties, cities, and the world.

Is photo voltaic vitality renewable?

Photo voltaic vitality is an infinite, renewable useful resource. It’s the cleanest and most ample vitality supply obtainable. It’s produced by the solar’s gentle and warmth, that are inexhaustible for so long as the solar exists.

Nonetheless, photo voltaic panels, one of many main strategies we use to harness vitality from the solar, are usually not a renewable useful resource. They require substitute each 25-30 years and are not totally recyclable. Important developments are underway, resembling biodegradable biopanels, however none are broadly obtainable. 

What’s photo voltaic vitality?

The solar produces two forms of vitality that we are able to harness: gentle and warmth. It produces these by way of nearly-infinite nuclear fusion. The brighter and warmer an space is, the extra vitality we are able to harness from the solar. 

As well as, photo voltaic vitality doesn’t emit greenhouse gasses, making it an environmentally-friendly various to conventional vitality sources. It’s additionally extraordinarily cost-effective and might help owners and companies get monetary savings on their vitality payments over time.

How does solar energy work?

There are three main methods to harness photo voltaic vitality: photo voltaic panels, concentrated photo voltaic, and photo voltaic course of warmth. 

  • Photo voltaic panels: Photo voltaic panels are the commonest sort of photo voltaic know-how for owners and companies. When you have photo voltaic panels, you need to use the electrical energy they generate such as you would every other energy supply. Electrical energy from solar energy can warmth and funky your house, warmth water, energy lights and home equipment, and extra. 
  • Concentrated photo voltaic: Concentrated photo voltaic know-how is primarily utilized in large-scale photo voltaic farms and industrial use. Corporations additionally usually construct photo voltaic farms in areas that obtain plenty of daylight. For instance, the largest photo voltaic farm within the US is positioned simply outdoors of Los Angeles, an space that receives an enormous quantity of daylight yearly. 
  • Photo voltaic course of warmth: Photo voltaic course of warmth is a technique of utilizing photo voltaic vitality to warmth, cool, and ventilate an area, in addition to change conventional water heaters. 

solar panels and wind turbines

How is photo voltaic vitality totally different from different vitality sources?

Solar energy is extra renewable and infrequently extra ecologically pleasant than different widespread vitality sources, together with fossil fuels, nuclear energy, hydropower, and wind energy. Let’s dive in to find how. 

Fossil fuels

Fossil fuels are finite and can finally run out, which suggests they aren’t renewable. Additionally, they emit dangerous gasses like carbon dioxide and methane and require tons of vitality to extract. 

Pure fuel is far cleaner than different fossil fuels, however nonetheless emits methane and infrequently requires fracking to extract. It is usually very liable to leaking throughout transportation and whereas in storage. 

Nuclear energy

Nuclear energy is not a renewable vitality supply, but it surely doesn’t emit greenhouse gasses. Nonetheless, nuclear energy crops produce huge quantities of extremely poisonous, harmful radioactive waste. Society hasn’t found a technique to soundly retailer or eliminate nuclear waste in a means that doesn’t leak and considerably hurt folks and the setting. 

Moreover, nuclear energy crops can explode, inflicting widespread and decades-long destruction.


Hydropower is a really clear vitality supply and doesn’t emit any greenhouse gasses. Nonetheless, dams devastate salmon populations together with many different species of crops and animals. And as local weather change worsens, many reservoirs and rivers have dried up, inflicting critical concern about the way forward for hydropower.

Wind energy

Like photo voltaic, wind energy is an infinitely renewable useful resource with much less environmental impression than different vitality sources like fossil fuels and hydropower. 

In comparison with solar energy, wind energy isn’t as broadly obtainable or constant as solar energy. And, some areas will not be windy sufficient to generate the kinetic vitality wanted to energy a house or group of buildings. 

Whereas residential wind generators can be found (small wind electrical methods), they usually require extra particular situations than photo voltaic panels and will not generate as a lot electrical energy. Plus, they require particular zoning permits and are costly to put in. 

Photo voltaic vitality for owners

Photo voltaic vitality is a inexperienced various to conventional vitality sources and helps the setting. If you’re interested by harnessing solar energy, many applications on the state and federal ranges might help you get monetary savings should you set up photo voltaic panels. Additionally, you could be eligible for a tax credit score should you swap to solar energy. 

Advantages of photo voltaic vitality for owners

Capturing photo voltaic vitality might help you get monetary savings and cut back your carbon footprint. 

Photo voltaic panels could be costly upfront, however can prevent cash in the long term by lowering or eliminating the electrical energy prices to your house. Additionally, costs of photo voltaic panels are happening as they grow to be extra obtainable. Plus, you could get a tax credit score or different profit by going photo voltaic, relying on the place you reside. Lowering the quantity of hydropower, pure fuel, and different vitality sources your house makes use of may even decrease your carbon footprint and environmental impression. 

grass and flowers

How photo voltaic vitality helps the setting

Photo voltaic vitality is renewable and doesn’t emit dangerous greenhouse gasses or noxious chemical compounds. Whereas different vitality sources might dry up, like hydropower and fossil fuels, solar energy gained’t. 

Nonetheless, there are some downsides to photo voltaic vitality. For instance, photo voltaic farms take up plenty of house and may negatively have an effect on biodiversity, birds, and pollinators in the event that they aren’t deliberate fastidiously. 

It additionally takes different pure assets apart from daylight and house to fabricate photo voltaic panels. Many assets go into making photo voltaic panels, resembling silicon and water, that are utilized in manufacturing and manufacturing.


Closing ideas on photo voltaic vitality 

As local weather change persists, it’s important to speculate extra in renewable vitality like solar energy. Photo voltaic vitality is an almost infinite vitality supply and is much cleaner than fossil fuels, resembling pure fuel and oil. 

Householders can harness photo voltaic vitality through the use of photo voltaic panels. Photo voltaic panels convert vitality from the solar into electrical energy, which you need to use like every other type of electrical energy. Whereas photo voltaic panels themselves aren’t totally renewable, they assist the setting whereas reducing your vitality prices. 

Redfin doesn’t present monetary or environmental recommendation. Particular person vitality wants, use, and capabilities might differ. At all times seek the advice of knowledgeable and take your particular person circumstances under consideration earlier than putting in photo voltaic panels.