Alba Energy

Solar Power Benefits The Texas Environment & Air Quality

01 Nov 2016

Posted in Commercial, General, Residential by Alba Energy

Many residents of Texas are interested in going solar to lessen their environmental impacts and decrease carbon footprints. There’s been a steady public outcry to get away from fossil fuel based power production and instead choose cleaner, renewable power choices.

But what exactly are the environmental benefits of switching from fossil fuel generated grid power to a solar panel installation on your roof?

Here Are The Environmental Benefits Of Using Solar Power In Texas

Lower Carbon Emissions

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average household produces approximately 20 metric tons of carbon pollution each year. By installing a home solar powersystem, a typical two-person household in Texas can eliminate 3 to 4 tons of carbon annually.

The power process of burning fossil fuels like coal, oil & gas produces greenhouse gas emissions. The biggest greenhouse gases are Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), and Nitrous oxide (N2O). These gases block infrared radiation from leaving Earth’s atmosphere, trapping radiation from the sun and warming the surface of our planet.

The chart below shows the percentage of CO2 produced from burning different fossil fuels (copied from the U.S. Energy Information Administration website):
eia-chart-of-fossil-fuel-electricity-generation-and-co2-emissions-2014

And here’s an EPA table showing the number of pounds of CO2 produced from burning different fossil fuels:
table-of-carbon-emissions-by-fossil-fuel-source

According to EIA data from 2013 (the most recent data published on their website), Texas is the biggest state for coal power (and CO2 emissions from coal). The top 5 consuming states of coal for electric power generation were:

Texas – 102.5 million short tons
Illinois – 51.9 million short tons
Indiana – 46.7 million short tons
Missouri – 44.6 million short tons
Pennsylvania – 41.4 million short tons

Environmental Benefit of Solar Power
Texans who instead opt to generate their own electricity with solar can substantially decrease the amount of dirty power used from fossil fuel-based power generation. Solar power has ZERO greenhouse gas emissions, and solar energy is a renewable resource, meaning it replenishes itself (unlike fossil fuels which will disappear once they are used).
austin-texas-home-solar-install
The 11,632 kWh produced each year by a 7.5 kW solar energy system in Texas is the environmental equivalent to 8.2 metric tons of CO2 NOT being emitted into the atmosphere. It is also equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 212 tree seedlings grown for 10 years, or 7.7 acres of U.S. forests in 1 year according to the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.
7-5-kw-texas-solar-power-carbon-offset

Lower Water Requirement

One of the most surprising (and shocking) things about power generation is the vast amount of water it requires. 53% of all water consumption in America is used for cooling thermoelectric power plants according to the EPA. Power plants require more water than Irrigation & Livestock, Industrial Mining, and Domestic & Commercial sectors combined!
epa-chart-of-total-water-consumption-by-application-in-america

Going a step deeper, if we look at different types of power plants we can see which use the most water. The table below was provided by the California Energy Commission:
water-use-by-power-source-graphic

Environmental Benefit of Solar Power
A solar power plant requires virtually ZERO water because solar panels don’t have to be cooled.
2016-solar-energy-installation-data
With a large scale solar power plant, like the ones used by CPS Energy in San Antonio, thousands and thousands of solar panels are installed on the ground and pointed toward the sun. Once turned on, these solar farms may use a little bit of water for maintenance and cleaning, but it is nowhere near the amount of water used by nuclear, coal, oil & natural gas power plants.
texas-drought
This is especially important during times of drought, and we all can agree that Texas has seen some really bad water shortages and restrictions in recent years. But when water gets even more scarce, would you rather it be used for human hydration (and staying alive), or sent to a fossil fuel power plant? A solar power plant seems like a no-brainer, especially when there are droughts!

Put the BIG & BOLD Texas Sun to Work for YOU!

Schedule a FREE solar consultation with Austin-based solar installer Alba Energy today! Ask us how to power your home with solar for under $80/month!
solar-panels-finance-chart
Solar panels can also be installed atop a business, so if you think your employer would like to contribute toward a cleaner environment, check out our Commercial Solar Solutions page and take a look at businesses across Texas who we’ve helped make the switch to solar.

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