What? I hear you say. I knew solar was good for the planet. I knew I could save money with solar. But how on earth is solar power saving lives?
Displacing dirty fossil fuels with solar
Hear me out on this one. If you think about it, this claim isn’t as crazy as it might sound.
After all, we know that burning dirty fuels puts dangerous emissions into our air and water. Those dirty emissions are killing people around the world. In the U.S. alone, air pollution causes about 200,000 early deaths each year. And most of this pollution comes from transportation and power generation.
Generating power from clean sources like solar reduces the harmful emissions going into our air.
So, it’s very true that switching from dirty fuels to clean solar power is saving lives.
Quantifying the benefits of solar
Don’t take it from me. A team at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) recently set out to quantify the benefits of solar — including the life-saving benefits. The results are impressive.
Their new report, “The Environmental and Public Health Benefits of Achieving High Penetrations of Solar Energy in the United States,” shows that with the solar we’d installed in the U.S. by the end of 2014, we already achieved these benefits:
- Solar power reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 17 million metric tons, equivalent to an annual benefit of $700 million.
- Solar has also reduced emissions of the other pollutant shown in the image below. Particulate matter is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to respiratory ailments. So with less of these emissions going into our air, fewer people are dying of respiratory illnesses. And fewer people are getting those kinds of illnesses in general — think, fewer kids having asthma attacks. Oh, and this is also saving big bucks, to the tune of $890 million.
- Solar power has also saved us water, because generating power with solar doesn’t use water, unlike many other forms of power generation. That’s especially significant in areas affected by drought, like California — where we have a lot of solar power.
Showing how much more we can do
Now, those are just the benefits as of late 2014. We’ve installed a lot of solar since then, and the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative aims to get much more solar installed. The program is working on driving down the costs of solar, with the goal of getting 14% percent of our electricity from solar by 2030, and 27% by 2050.
If you’ve been following solar, or following our blog, you know that we’re quite likely to get past the SunShot goal. So we’re likely to see even more benefits from solar power — and more lives saved.
This won’t come at a big cost to our country. In fact, we’ll save an amazing amount of money. The LBNL study estimates that just by reaching the SunShot goal, we’ll see health and environmental benefits between 2015 and 2050 amounting to $400 billion.
Making a difference in your own life
How can you be part of this trend? Contact a MyDomino energy savings concierge to see if going solar makes sense for you. Your concierge will find vetted installers in your area, get you quotes and financing, and guide you through the whole process.
With solar power on your roof, you’ll know you’re making an important contribution to the health of your family, your community, and our country.