Did you know that if we equipped half the houses in America with full-sized solar panels, there's the potential that we could power the entire U.S. with solar power? The location of the panels would have to be strategically placed to maximize solar efficiency, but once in place, America could have 25 years of energy independence from foreign oil for electrical needs.
A great example of how this energy can impact local neighborhoods is Iwaki New Town, Japan. Their neighborhood has 46 homes fully equipped with solar power. These 46 homes provide 310,000 kWh a year, which can power over 90 households! Iwaki New Town's climate is much like many cities in Southern and Western U.S. It's sunny between 250-300 days out of the year, and there's very little snow.
If we equipped every home in Florida, the Carolinas, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California, the U.S. would have over 70% of its electricity needs met with only the sun's power. If you add less sunny states such as Tennessee, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nevada and Utah, we could easily power 100% of America's electrical needs with solar alone. If every commercial business in America used this abundant resource regardless of their location, we could actually produce more electricity than what we would need.
Imagine that- other countries such as Canada and Mexico dependent on the U.S. for energy. Such benefits could be pumped back into maintaining those solar systems and increasing the incentives for homeowners to start using renewable energy.
Furthermore, the carbon footprint of solar power is infinitesimal when compared to conventional gas and electric systems. The only carbon footprint produced from solar panels is the tiny amount of carbon used in production. The myth that it takes more carbon to produce a solar panel than to run one is false. Once running, a panel has zero carbon emissions and lasts over 25 years. Just one large solar power plant producing over 1mW a year replaces over 1500 cars on the road in regards to carbon footprint-A YEAR. Over the course of 25 years of reliable renewable energy, this equates to over 37,500 cars for just one solar power plant!
The other perk to using the power of the sun is the recyclability of the the panels, inverters and batteries. Once a panel fails, it's easily recycled to produce more panels. The glass and solar cells can be melted down and "recharged" to make even more panels. The same goes for the electrical components such as the inverter and battery. Metals within the inverter can be melted down to create more electrical diodes and pairings, and the batteries can be remanufactured to make more batteries. This is similar to what we do with cell phones that have been recycled. Recycling plants that recycle these parts could also be run on solar power, further reducing our carbon footprint as we recreate new solar energy systems and recycle old ones.
Best of all, as this type of energy gets more popular, the cost of these systems invariably goes down. Plus, as we recycle more of these systems, more parts become available and more homeowners can invest in the solar panels industry. It may seem like a huge cost, but when you consider the rising cost of electricity, how can we justify not using solar power?