Solar Cities: Do The Benefits Outweigh The Costs?

Solar power generation has now doubled in 45 out of the 57 biggest American cities, a new study from the Environment America Research & Policy Center reveals. Thanks to recent advancements in technology, buildings and all types of furnishings can be made capable of obtaining solar photovoltaic power. Large-scale solar installations in cities are essential to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change.

Save money and help the environment

Adopting solar power has numerous benefits for homeowners, Freedom Solar explains. After the initial necessary monetary investment, solar panels drastically slash energy bills. Without solar power, the average monthly electricity bill totals $124.47. Moreover, the average 6-kilowatt solar panel system adds an extra $24,000 onto home value. On the environmental front, solar power eliminates the need for fossil fuel and decreases your carbon footprint. For example, while the average Connecticut household uses 8,288 kWh of electricity on average every year, switching to solar panels in this state can reduce emissions to the same effect as planting 150 trees.

Potential drawbacks?

Despite the benefits of solar power, many people living in cities already using large-scale installations are expressing concerns. Some don’t agree solar farms belong in cities full stop. For example, residents in Fremantle in Australia have complained about light and noise pollution caused by the large-scale installation planned for the city. Mirrors can often cause glare, while maintenance vehicles create extra traffic. The installation itself can result in increased noise and lighting. The project, the largest planned for the country, will cover eight hectares and generate 4.9 MW of electricity. It’s intended to help Fremantle achieve its goal of being supplied by 100% renewable energy.

Minimizing challenges

Nevertheless, the challenges posed by large-scale installations are temporary and can be minimized. For example, installing screens, walls or trees can improve views, block unsightly construction work, and manage glare. Steps also need to be taken to minimize potential habitat loss on site. However, installations can also create new habitats for wildlife, such as nesting sites found within the physical infrastructure.

Cities are expected to continue to adopt large-scale solar installations into the future. In fact, experts estimate that renewable energy production will reach 40% across cities by 2060. With thoughtful site selection, management, and construction, city residents can look forward to enjoying the benefits of clean energy.

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