How Rooftop Solar and Land Conservation Can Work Together to Benefit the Environment

Solar energy’s applications are numerous and extend far beyond offering homeowners a backup power source. In recent years, the conversation around ground-mounted solar installations and wildlife conservation has been gaining attention—in no small part because of a boom in solar farms nationwide. 

As the pressing need for renewable energy intensifies, finding ways for solar energy and land conservation to coexist has become crucial. Learn how solar panels positively impact the environment, and how rooftop solar is paving a way for conservationists to harness the infinite energy from the sun. 

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Why Is Solar Energy Good for the Environment?

Are solar panels good for the environment? Yes! The benefits of solar energy for the environment are plentiful. Here are the key environmental benefits:

Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Solar energy systems produce electricity without emitting harmful greenhouse gasses, thus helping to combat climate change.  The United States now has enough installed solar capacity to power more than 36.1 million average American homes and offset more than 222 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.1

Households and businesses using solar power also significantly lower their carbon footprint, contributing to broader environmental conservation efforts. By 2035, widespread adoption of solar energy in the United States is expected to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 2005 levels, significantly aiding climate goals.2

Decreases Air Pollution

Unlike fossil fuels, solar power does not produce air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which can cause respiratory problems and other health issues. A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimated that increased solar deployment could prevent 25,000–60,000 premature deaths in the U.S. by 2050 due to improved air quality.

Conserves Water

Solar energy requires significantly less water than conventional power generation processes, such as cooling systems in coal, natural gas, and nuclear power plants. Solar power systems save about 1.5 billion gallons of water annually in the U.S. by reducing the need for thermoelectric power plants, which rely heavily on water for cooling.

Mitigates Climate Change

By providing a renewable source of energy, solar power reduces reliance on fossil fuels, which are major contributors to global warming and climate disruption.

Sustainable and Renewable

Solar energy is abundant and renewable, reducing dependence on finite resources like coal, oil, and natural gas.

Energy Independence

With solar energy, countries can reduce their dependence on imported fossil fuels, leading to greater energy security and economic stability.

Land Rehabilitation

Installing solar panels on degraded lands or brownfields can restore those areas, preventing soil erosion and potentially enhancing local biodiversity.

How Does Solar Energy Affect Wildlife?

By integrating solar energy systems with conservation efforts, we can protect natural habitats while harnessing clean energy, ultimately benefiting the environment and promoting biodiversity. Introducing any energy technology to the environment requires careful consideration. All commercial and residential projects undergo a permitting phase that requires mitigation of environmental impact. 

There are an overwhelming number of positive reasons why pivoting from traditional energy sources to renewables can have a net positive impact on local ecosystems. 

  • Reduce Air Pollution: Solar energy reduces the reliance on fossil fuels, thereby lowering the emission of pollutants that harm ecosystems and wildlife.
  • Conserve Water: Solar power generation requires significantly less water compared to traditional power plants, helping preserve local aquatic ecosystems.
  • Minimize Habitat Destruction: Solar farms can be built on already disturbed land, such as rooftops or deserts, reducing the need to clear forests or other natural habitats.
  • Promote Biodiversity: Solar installations can create micro-habitats for various plant and animal species, fostering biodiversity in the surrounding areas.

Solar Farms vs Rooftop Solar

Solar energy comes in many forms, each with its own impacts. Let’s compare the environmental footprint of a large-scale solar farm to a homeowner’s rooftop solar PV system. 

Solar Farms and Environmental Impact

These utility-scale renewable energy projects are designed to ease the strain on regional grids while providing substantial benefits to landowners and communities. By offering lease payments and generating tax revenue, these projects contribute to local economies, supporting educational job creation and making energy more affordable. This dual approach ensures that while renewable energy goals are advanced, community development is also bolstered. 

These projects tend to use leased acreage from farmers that are developed to host hundreds or more solar panels that will collect and feed solar energy back to the municipal grid. 

Some of the environmental benefits of solar farms: 

  • Supports Ecosystems and Biodiversity: If vegetative screening and native flora are used, these areas become pollinator havens. 
  • Regenerative: Farmland is allowed to ‘rest’ and regenerate for 10-15 years. 
  • Resource Conservation: They require minimal water for their operation. Water usage is mostly limited to occasional cleaning of solar panels to maintain efficiency. In contrast, fossil fuel power plants, such as coal, natural gas, and petroleum-based facilities, are notorious for their high water consumption.
  • Co-Location and Shading: By co-locating solar panels with crops, farmers can generate clean energy while still utilizing land for agricultural purposes. This dual use of land maximizes the efficiency of land resources and can even provide benefits such as shading crops to reduce water evaporation. 

Rooftop Solar and Environmental Impact

Rooftop solar remains one of the most low-impact ways to develop residential solar growth. An existing surface is used, and this application allows homeowners to be intimately involved in monitoring, reducing, and using their energy consumption! 

Some of the environmental benefits of rooftop solar: 

  • No New Infrastructure: Rooftop solar produces electricity close to where it’s consumed, reducing the need for new transmission infrastructure. Both of these factors make rooftop solar a win-win for local ecosystems!
  • Efficient Use of Space: Rooftop solar panels utilize existing structures, eliminating the need for additional land. It’s also flexible in its applications across a variety of rooftop types
  • Enhanced Energy Security: By generating electricity close to the point of use, rooftop solar reduces a homeowner’s dependency on the traditional electric grid and, when paired with a backup battery, helps provide security from power outages due to extreme weather or grid strains.

Additionally, rooftop solar provides significant cost savings for homeowners. Rooftop solar is something that every homeowner can take part in. When your energy needs are produced by free energy from the sun, you can achieve a significant reduction in your monthly electric bills from the utility company. Over the 25-year lifetime of a solar system, Freedom Solar homeowners save on average $20,000 in electricity costs. Learn more about the cost savings with solar

Find Energy Independence with Freedom Solar Power & Texas Land Conservancy

Every Texas Land Conservancy member who chooses rooftop solar for their home receives $1,000 off their solar project, and Freedom Solar will donate $1,000 to the Texas Land Conservancy, too! It’s a win-win for the environment and for you. 

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