ION Solar Blog

How Is Solar Energy Different From Traditional Forms of Energy?

For the first time in history, homes and residences in the United States now consume more electricity than all commercial businesses across the nation.

We power everything from phones and personal devices, to appliances, central heating & air, and even our vehicles. 

Abundant electricity has long been a staple of day-to-day life, but the rising cost of traditional utilities has forced a change in the way we generate power.

Traditional Sources of Energy

There are many forms of “traditional” energy used to historically generate electricity. They range from more widely used fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, to sustainable options like wind and hydroelectric energy. Let’s take a look at each in a bit more detail.

COAL: For decades, the most common source of fuel used to create electricity was coal. Mined from vast deposits and transported to power plants, coal was then crushed and burned to generate enough heat to boil water, power turbines, and ultimately create an electrical charge.

Coal-based electricity once constituted more than 60% of all electricity in the United States, but recent concerns over depleting coal reserves and the effects of greenhouse gas emissions have seen a shift away from coal in favor of another fossil fuel…natural gas.

While coal long provided the majority of electricity to homes and businesses across the United States, concerns over depleting coal reserves and the effects of greenhouse gases have led to a shift away from coal and a reduction in the number of coal fired power plants.

NATURAL GAS: Similar to coal, natural gas generates electricity by being burned to create large amounts of heat (and subsequently power a turbine). 

Since 2019, the jump to natural gas in favor of coal has seen a decline in the number of coal-fired power plants, but also a sharp rise in the price of natural gas. 

Further complicating the issue, the loss of traditional European suppliers of natural gas has led to a scarcity of the resource, resulting in a nearly 15% rise in the price of electricity over a four-year span.

What’s more, natural gas still represents a limited, non-renewable fossil fuel resource that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

WIND AND HYDROELECTRIC: While both wind-generated electricity and hydroelectricity each represent clean and renewable sources of energy, they currently make up only a small portion of the electricity produced in the United States.

Wind-powered electricity constitutes about 10% of all electricity produced in America, while hydroelectricity creates about 6%.

Both are limited geographically to regions with enough wind or water to meet electrical needs, and neither has been effectively transformed into a private residential option.

The Rise of Solar Energy

Rather than being reliant on the mining and consumption of a limited fuel source, solar energy is able to generate electricity through the most abundant and renewable of all energy sources… the sun! 

Additionally, solar energy uses a natural process to generate electricity, creates no harmful environmental side effects, and is not affected by the rising costs of scarce fossil fuel resources.

How Does Solar Energy Work?

In order to convert electricity from the sun’s radiation, solar panels make use of a technology known as photovoltaics.

Through this process, specific wavelengths of the sun’s rays are absorbed into solar panels and produce an electrical current through the movement and displacement of electrons.

This process takes place naturally, accomplished through the use of components in the solar panels like silicon, phosphorous, and boron.  These naturally occurring elements do not need any other external fuel source to generate electricity, and can continue to carry out the process for decades as they continue to receive the sun’s radiation. It can be recreated hour after hour, day after day, throughout the lifetime of a solar panel….and powered completely by the sun itself. 

Solar panels use layers of materials like silicon, phosphorous, and boron, which can continue to generate electricity through electron displacement for decades, requiring no external source of energy other than the sun.

The Environmentally-Friendly Benefits of Solar Energy

Unlike electricity produced through traditional fossil fuels, the solar photovoltaic process creates no harmful environmental side effects like greenhouse gasses. 

Solar energy is clean and renewable, working constantly to power your home without producing dangerous emissions or waste.

Top-quality solar panels even have a life expectancy of 20 years or more, with high-end models offering up to a 30-year performance warranty. When compared to the amount of fossil fuels potentially used over that same time period, the positive impact of solar energy is clear; solar is the environmentally friendly option. 

More Predictable Power Bills

The rising costs of fossil fuels have led to concerns for many homeowners looking to lower their monthly utility bills.

Because solar panels don’t rely on fossil fuels to create electricity, solar-generated power doesn’t fluctuate in price as the costs of coal and natural gas increase.

This independence from the scarcity of fossil fuels means that solar customers can enjoy a greater level of energy self-reliance, rather than being subject to the constantly increasing prices of traditional utility costs.

Thinking of Switching From Traditional to Solar Energy?

We’d love to help you make the transition!

Since 2013, we’ve been helping homeowners become energy-independent through top-quality Silfab solar panels and microinverter systems that are designed to make the most of your electrical needs.

Silfab solar panels are constructed to efficiently gather and convert the maximum amount of sunlight available to your home.

They create no dangerous emissions, do not fluctuate in price based on the scarcity of fossil fuels, and draw their energy from a completely renewable (and reliable) source of energy.

Find out how a switch from traditional energy can be the choice that powers you by contacting one of our solar specialists today.


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