RALEIGH, N.C. – Solar energy provides North Carolinians with environmental and health benefits that often are overlooked, according to a new report. A study from the Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center and Frontier Group found by curbing the need to generate power at fossil-fuel plants, cities reduce smog and other kinds of air pollution linked to health problems.
Report co-author Emma Searson, Go Solar campaign director for Environment America, said when implemented on a large scale, harnessing the sun’s rays also comes with economic advantages.
“Solar power can also reduce energy prices just by driving down overall demand on our energy system,” Searson said. “And, it also lowers price volatility because it helps to diversify our energy supply. It reduces our dependence on fossil-fuel energy sources, which fluctuate in price.”
In 2018, Gov. Roy Cooper announced a goal to shrink the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 40% by the year 2025. Searson also pointed to the unexpected benefits of installing solar panels, such as having an immediate power supply after a natural disaster.
“I know I talked to many in Florida who had the benefit of having that power right on their home in the case of a power outage. When we have lots of solar owners as part of the grid, they all help make our entire grid more resilient and reliable in those situations,” she said.
The report found many studies on solar energy, especially those conducted by utility companies, have left out the full range of solar’s benefits. As a result, Searson said, lawmakers tasked with creating renewable-energy polices and incentives may have misconceptions about solar’s value to society.