Unlike coal, oil, and natural gas, solar doesn’t spew toxic chemicals into the atmosphere or add to greenhouse gas emissions. By contrast, data from the International Panel on Climate Change has found that life-cycle global warming emissions from solar and other forms of renewable energy are minimal. That includes manufacturing solar panels, installation, maintenance, dismantling, and decommissioning.
Solar power’s avoided pollutants offer serious public health benefits. Air and water pollution from coal and natural gas — whether from power plants or our transportation choices — increases cancer, heart attacks, neurological damage, and breathing problems like asthma.
Switching from fossil fuels to clean energy reduces lost workdays and even early deaths. Studies show that fossil fuels are costing our economy between $361.7 billion and $886.5 billion each year in healthcare bills, up to 6% of our country’s GDP. That means we’re paying for a whole new 2009-style bailout every year to stay on fossil fuels. Solar can save us a lot of money.
Science from the Audubon Society has confirmed that climate change is the number one threat to birds. There are 314 bird species in the United States that could lose more than half of their current ranges by 2080 due to rising temperatures. Committing to solar can help protect local habitats now and in years to come so that species like birds will continue to make the Pacific Northwest their home.
Here in the growing Pacific Northwest, solar also supplements our hydropower baseload. Hydro is dependent on an ever-declining supply of freshwater, requires expensive upkeep, and disturbs salmon and other wildlife.
An average-sized residential solar system in Washington (7.5kW) prevents 2,000 trees’ worth of carbon pollution each year. That means that thanks to the more than 60 MW of solar already installed across Washington, our state has already saved over 16 million trees’ worth of carbon. More specifically, a Western Washington University study calculates the environmental benefits of solar are worth $9 per kilowatt to the state, or approximately $5.4 million so far.
Finally, solar is contagious, and so are its environmental benefits. Studies show that adding one rooftop system on a block increases the average number of installations within a half-mile radius by 44%. That means the environmental benefits also multiply exponentially across the neighborhood for every new solar home.
Help keep Washington #SolarStrong by signing this petition by the Solar Installers of Washington!
While the Pacific Northwest has enjoyed inexpensive hydropower for many decades, the price of depending on hydro – in dollars, pollution, and security – is growing.
Washington is home to 128 small businesses that manufacture or install solar components. Collectively, they support 3,700 jobs in our state.