The growing prominence of solar power is fueled by more than just a need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. We spoke with Mr. Thomas Neyhart, the founder of PosiGen, a sustainable energy and solar power company, to better understand solar power, why it is important, and the impacts it can have on our everyday lives.
The impacts of fossil fuels, industrial growth, and power consumption on climate change are well documented. According to Thomas Neyhart, the founder of solar system provider PosiGen, the world’s average temperature has risen slowly over the last several decades, but the pronounced effects of the unrestrained use of fossil fuels will hit us more and more frequently and closer and closer to home every day. Mr. Neyhart has said that tornadoes, wildfires, droughts, and other natural disasters are proof that we are at the brink of global change that we must tackle immediately. Over the last few years, climate-induced catastrophes have cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars, and matters will only get worse if we do not act today.
The problem, in fact, is much bigger than long-term climate change, which in itself is reason enough to worry. The pollution from fossil fuels has serious effects on health, the environment, the cost of energy, insurance rates, and more. Thomas Neyhart has said that solar power and green, sustainable energy companies such as PosiGen can potentially turn the tide and not only help people on an individual and community level but meaningfully reduce the global costs of relying on fossil fuels.
Below are some of the costs and benefits related to fossil fuels and going solar.
Carbon dioxide and Methane Emissions
Carbon dioxide and methane are two dangerous byproducts of using fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is absorbed in the atmosphere and can trap heat from the sun, steadily raising the earth’s temperature. This can lead to increased droughts and famines, wildfires, deforestation, the loss of wetlands and native species, and higher respiratory illness incidence rates.
While carbon dioxide typically takes most of the blame as a primary fossil fuel emission, methane can be worse, since it can trap more heat and radiation than carbon dioxide – up to 25 times as much, pound for pound. Methane is released into the atmosphere from the burning of petroleum and natural gas and can stay in the environment for longer than carbon dioxide.
PosiGen and Thomas Neyhart have said that using solar panels to generate electricity not only prevents air pollution and reduces carbon dioxide and methane emissions but solar power is also sustainable and renewable. The less petroleum and natural gas we use, the less carbon dioxide and methane we will emit. According to Mr. Neyhart, with a solar installation, you can start to reduce your carbon footprint from Day 1.
Fossil fuels such as oil can leak or spill into the environment, harming plants, animals, and contaminating water sources. Fracking – which involves digging deep into the ground for natural gas reserves – destroys several layers of the earth and natural habitats along the way. Coal-burning releases vast amounts of toxins into the atmosphere as well.
Some have proposed nuclear power as an alternative. Mr. Neyhart has said that although nuclear power does not have many of these shortcomings – a point that many make when advocating more nuclear power – nuclear waste must also be sealed and stored underground. This can make those areas dangerous and unfit for living, and the radioactive waste from nuclear power plants can leak and pollute the ground for years as well.
Solar panels do not significantly contribute to ground pollution in these ways, and even rainwater that washes off solar installations does not draw or extract solar materials in any way from the panels or deposit them in the earth.
Most solar companies like PosiGen conduct a pre-installation assessment to determine the best place – and the best type – of installation based on the client’s needs. By taking the available space into consideration and including services, repair, and maintenance in different offerings, solar companies can make it easy and cost-effective to set up a solar array at your home or business while also limiting ground pollution.
According to the World Health Organization, over four million people die prematurely every year due to preventable air pollution. One of the main sources of air pollution is fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas. Burning these fuels releases harmful chemicals into the air, many of which can cause cancer. Solar panels do not produce effluent (water waste) or air pollution of any kind, so it is no wonder that solar panels and green energy are being hailed as a life-saving alternative to fossil fuel power.
Transmission and Storage
Thomas Neyhart and the PosiGen engineering team have said that most urban areas use power generated at plants that are outside the main city limits. This means that the energy generated at these plants must travel to the end-user on long transmission lines. Unfortunately, a lot of electricity is lost during transmission. This means that the plant must produce more energy than is required by the town or city just to make up for transmission loss. This also means that cities must plan for and invest in spare capacity to manage the highs and lows of energy consumption at different times of the day or year.
Alternatively, solar energy systems use an advanced setup of photovoltaic panels, battery storage, and transmission equipment to convert solar energy right from your rooftop and deliver the energy to your home or business. This results in minimal transmission loss and zero air and water pollution. It also minimizes how much you need to invest in spare capacity because excess production can be stored in on-site batteries. Also, using dual metering, power can be taken from the public grid if your solar array does not make enough energy for you on a given day, and you can sell excess production to the grid if your system makes more energy than you need.
Insurance and Home Value
Finally, according to Thomas Neyhart and PosiGen’s assessment teams, you may have to pay extra for insuring your solar panels. However, a solar installation can raise your home value since the long-term savings from sustainable energy produced on-site can exceed several thousands of dollars every year. Depending on where you live, the size of your home, your energy needs, and available alternatives, a solar panel installation from PosiGen or another sustainable energy solutions provider can substantially reduce your power bills.
Furthermore, because solar installations typically include a home energy audit that identifies simple upgrades and changes you can make to improve your home’s energy efficiency, PosiGen and other providers can help their clients make the right changes today that will deliver long-term benefits.
Many up-and-coming solar power system providers are having a positive impact on their workforces and communities as well. For example, according to Comparably, a workplace assessment firm, PosiGen was in the top 5% of solar power companies for company leadership, employee happiness, CEO performance, retention, diversity, and office culture. According to Thomas Neyhart, PosiGen’s commitment to creating safe and happy workplaces is part of the company’s strategy to have as large an impact on people, communities, and the environment over the long run as possible.
Thomas Neyhart also believes that the solar trend will only pick up the pace. With the benefits outlined above in mind, this statement is certainly credible. These advantages, in addition to federal government subsidies for going solar and other incentives for moving to sustainable energy from fossil fuels, are why we see more and more people making the switch to green energy. The exact trends that the industry experiences over the next few years are anyone’s guess, but we are already seeing major changes underway today.