What Makes Solar Energy Green in Utah?
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What makes solar energy green is the system’s renewable source of energy. The sun isn’t going anywhere any time soon. And let’s be honest. When it does burn out, electricity will be the least of our worries. When a photovoltaic system harvests energy from the sun, you have emission-free electricity. This is especially helpful in Utah Valley. Air quality and inversion negatively impact the average citizen’s day-to-day experience. Because emissions are trapped between our two majestic mountain fronts, air quality is a major health concern. For Utahans, reducing your carbon footprint makes for clean air and an even cleaner conscience.
Thankfully, there are many renewable solutions available. One of the most popular solutions for homeowners is solar panels.
Going Solar in Utah: See the Whole Picture
Most people who want solar installed on their homes are happy to see the savings. More should be concerned about how environmentally friendly their solar panel manufacturer is.
What Goes Into Manufacturing Solar Panels
Unfortunately, the fabrication of solar panels is not always a clean process yet. The current manufacturing process uses caustic materials and emission of greenhouse gases. The production also creates toxic waste. Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory did a study on emissions from solar panel production. This study found that a panel from China has twice the carbon footprint than one from Europe. China is home to many manufacturers that disregard safety to achieve competitive prices. Unless consumers start caring about how their panel was made, this could easily get out of hand.
Solar Panel Manufacturers Taking Responsibility
Thankfully, there are manufacturers that implement clean module production practices. Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition provides solar scorecards for participating manufacturers. These scores provide information about how good manufacturers are at taking care of and reducing toxic waste. The average score for the 2016-2017 scorecard was 36. Because scorecards are volunteer-based, not every manufacturer is included. In fact, most don’t even participate every year. This means that the manufacturer that you want to look into may not be on this survey.
Photovoltaic Recycling in the United States
If it was cheap, everyone would do it, but recycling panels haven’t proven to be profitable. In fact, they probably won’t be until the early 2030s. Because solar panels have such a long lifespan there aren’t a whole lot of panels that need to be recycled. If, however, you are one of the few that needs to recycle, you can’t just take the panel to the dump. There are a couple of panel recycling programs out there that may be able to help you. These programs, however, are geared toward solar company panel recycling. The best option is to talk to your solar company and ask them to recycle your non-functioning panels.
Where Utah Stands in the Solar Department
Utah is a great place for solar, but it may not always be if we aren’t doing our part to make sure solar policy is favorable. There are a couple of changes in the works that could affect future solar installations.
Utah Solar News: Solar Development and Tax Credit Extension
Looking into what makes solar green coincides with what makes solar affordable. Right now the major contributors to solar affordability are the federal and state tax credits. Together, these cover a little over 30 percent of your total system cost.
Utah Solar Development
The newest development on the federal tax credit is John Knotwell’s proposal to amend Utah’s Energy Resource Procurement Act. He proposed that Rocky Mountain Power be allowed to use the 30 percent federal tax credit for their projects.
With Rocky Mountain’s recent actions against the solar industry still fresh on our mind, caution should be applied. Utah Clean Energy is working to make sure that this bill still allows for competition within the solar industry.
State of Utah Tax Credit Changes
As a result of the metering settlement, a tax credit extension is being proposed. The proposal asks that the state tax credit freeze at $1,600 until 2020, and then phase out by 2024.
If you are thinking about getting solar down the road, you will want to stay posted on the results of this proposal. You can find the progress of this piece legislation, HB 261, on the Utah State Legislature website. If this legislation doesn’t go through, this tax credit will phase out by 2020.
Utah Solar Projects: When To Start Yours
Getting solar is a case by case scenario. Over time, solar has become a sound financial decision for many, but it is still not the best option for everyone. You will have to decide if you and your home are a good fit for solar. There are many factors that go into this decision. The best way to know if you are a good candidate for solar is to talk to a solar representative. They will let you know if your home qualifies for their solar program.