Solar energy is an important clean and renewable energy source as it does not create the toxic byproducts created by coal, natural gas, and oil production. Polluted air from these processes can negatively affect the Earth and human health, and can lead to long term respiratory issues for vulnerable populations. Solar power is infinitely renewable; well at least until the sun no longer exists. Coal takes millions of years to naturally be created and we are using it at such an incredible rate that some scientists think by the year 2100, there will be no more coal left. It is in our collective best interest to rely on renewable sources of energy before it becomes too late. Solar energy is the perfect candidate.
To incentivize households and businesses to use solar energy, the federal government has set up the Solar Incentive Tax Credit (ITC) -- a 30 percent federal tax credit which can be applied to a homeowner’s personal income tax. This is an available benefit to those who pay out of pocket for solar panels and installation. In addition, to further promote solar energy, some states, townships, or utility companies may reimburse a percent of the cost of the purchase and installation of solar panels up to a certain percentage. Other ways to use solar energy to a cost-efficient effect is through the use of community net metering, or virtual net metering.
Community net metering and virtual net metering make solar energy more affordable. Community net metering is when many solar customers buy in to a larger solar collective and receive benefits in terms of lower costs per month on their utility bills. Instead of having solar panels directly on the roof of the house, often an off-site solar farm provides the customers with power; it is a service one subscribes to. Virtual net metering takes that concept a step further and is when someone who owns a share of a “solar garden” is able to receive credit for the solar energy their share produces and that is used to lessen their power bill even more. The ideas and concepts associated with solar energy are constantly evolving and growing towards a future that is much more reliant on solar power.
The future of solar energy is bright! The main drawback to using solar energy is the initial cost of purchasing the units and installing them. However, as community and virtual net metering grow in popularity, and solar energy becomes a more widely used source of energy, the costs will decrease exponentially. In addition to the cost going down, we will all have to look towards an alternative energy source anyways, and solar is already on its rise.