Faux Solar Facts: The Three Biggest Myths People Believe About Solar Power

solarpowermythSolar power has been in the news a lot lately, especially if you’re a resident of California.  Recently the California law makers passed AB 327, the law that will drastically change the ways California residents use and pay for their solar energy.  Now it’s mandatory for utility companies to buy back solar energy that San Francisco, LA generates across the state from their customers, and also expand their solar energy offerings.

Other states are also changing their laws to make solar power more accessible for residents, and one of our previous blog posts highlighted the states that are doing the most to bring solar power to their residents.   Solar power has never been more of a hot topic in the media, but that popularity has also spawned quite a few myths about solar power.  There are a lot of misconceptions people have about solar power, and some of them are making people miss out on using an affordable and clean energy source.  The next time you hear someone touting these lies about solar power as the truth, make sure that you set them straight.

Myth #1: Solar power is “dirty”

Some people believe that solar power can’t be classified as a green energy because they believe that manufacturing solar cells and solar power plants generates a lot of pollution.  Articles published in the Wall Street Journal and the American Enterprise Institute have claimed that there has been extensive research done on the issue, and that it proves that solar energy shouldn’t be classified as a green energy sources.  Their claims are only half right.  There has been extensive research done on the issue, but none of it shows that solar energy produces more pollution than its use can offset.  The International Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group III examined hundreds of estimates on greenhouse gas emission, and they found that solar energy is one of the cleanest energy sources we can use.

Myth #2: Solar power takes up far too much land

One reason why some people are against solar power is because they believe that it requires too much land in order to operate.  They claim that coal mining and oil and gas drilling requires far less space, and that a lot of the land that’s being used for solar farms could be used for nature preserves and other environmental purposes.  It is true that there are some solar farms that take up miles of land, but those big farms aren’t the true face of solar energy.

The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory did a study on solar land use, and they claimed that a 100-by-100 mile area of desert in Nevada that’s equipped with solar panels could generate enough electricity for the entire United States.  The same report even claimed that 90% of solar power plants and generators could be built on the hundreds of abandoned industrial sites across the country.  That report was written in 2003, and the advances in solar technology could make that number even smaller.

Myth #3 Solar Power is too expensive

If there’s one thing political pundits love to bash about solar energy, it’s the cost.  People claim that solar energy is way too expensive for the average home owner to afford, and for the average local and state government to finance.  The truth is that the price of solar panels has dramatically decreased over the past few decades while their efficiency has dramatically increased.  When you pair that with the fact that many state governments offer their residents subsidies and tax breaks for residents that use solar power, it looks like solar power is more affordable now than it ever was before.