20 overlooked benefits of distributed solar energy

July 09, 2019

A study released today provides the most complete list yet of the advantages of solar energy -- from carbon sequestration to improvements for pollinator habitat. The paper offers a new framework for analyzing solar projects to better understand the full suite of benefits.

The study, published in Nature Sustainability, was conducted by researchers from the University of California, Davis; Lancaster University in the United Kingdom; the Center for Biological Diversity and 10 other organizations.

It suggests a framework for understanding more completely, and ultimately quantifying, the benefits of solar energy, identifying 20 frequently overlooked advantages. For example, solar panels paired with native plant restoration can add habitat while also increasing panel efficiency.

A WILD ENERGY FUTURE

The study also marks the launch of a partnership between the Center for Biological Diversity and UC Davis to advance a "Wild Energy" future, which emphasizes the potential of solar energy systems to benefit not only humans, but the entire planet.

"The first step in creating a wild-energy future is understanding the true value of solar," said lead author Rebecca R. Hernandez, assistant professor at UC Davis' John Muir Institute of the Environment. "By valuing all the benefits of renewable energy, we can start to build an energy system that's beneficial for people, wildlife and wild places."

"Solar energy has way more benefits than most people imagine," said Greer Ryan, a renewable energy and research specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity and co-author of the paper. "We're hoping utilities, regulators and legislators will now have a better sense of the importance of solar energy, which will lead to the expansion of rooftop solar, more community solar development and lower prices for everyone."

Solar energy is the fastest-growing source of power worldwide. In 2019, solar is expected to provide more than 30 percent of all new U.S. electric capacity. According to the International Energy Agency, solar energy could become the largest electricity source by 2050. Solar has many advantages beyond providing power, particularly when built to maximize social, technological and environmental benefits.

"As governments increasingly commit to 100 percent renewable energy, they should valuate and appropriately incentivize the synergies outlined in this study," said Alona Armstrong of Lancaster University and the paper's second author. "This would maximize solar energy generation potential while protecting our planet's climate, air quality, water, land and wildlife."

RESULTS

In the report, the authors:
-end-


University of California - Davis

Related Renewable Energy Articles from Brightsurf:

Creating higher energy density lithium-ion batteries for renewable energy applications
Lithium-ion batteries that function as high-performance power sources for renewable applications, such as electric vehicles and consumer electronics, require electrodes that deliver high energy density without compromising cell lifetimes.

Renewable energy targets can undermine sustainable intentions
Renewable energy targets (RETs) may be too blunt a tool for ensuring a sustainable future, according to University of Queensland-led research.

Intelligent software for district renewable energy management
CSEM has developed Maestro, an intelligent software application that can manage and schedule the production and use of renewable energies for an entire neighborhood.

Renewable energy transition makes dollars and sense
New UNSW research has disproved the claim that the transition to renewable electricity systems will harm the global economy.

Renewable energy advance
In order to identify materials that can improve storage technologies for fuel cells and batteries, you need to be able to visualize the actual three-dimensional structure of a particular material up close and in context.

Illuminating the future of renewable energy
A new chemical compound created by researchers at West Virginia University is lighting the way for renewable energy.

Using fiber optics to advance safe and renewable energy
Fiber optic cables, it turns out, can be incredibly useful scientific sensors.

Renewable energy developments threaten biodiverse areas
More than 2000 renewable energy facilities are built in areas of environmental significance and threaten the natural habitats of plant and animal species across the globe.

Could water solve the renewable energy storage challenge?
Seasonally pumped hydropower storage could provide an affordable way to store renewable energy over the long-term, filling a much needed gap to support the transition to renewable energy, according to a new study from IIASA scientists.

Scientists take strides towards entirely renewable energy
Researchers have made a major discovery that will make it immeasurably easier for people (or super-computers) to search for an elusive 'green bullet' catalyst that could ultimately provide entirely renewable energy.

Read More: Renewable Energy News and Renewable Energy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.