The closer solar panels are to you,
the more you save.
Heat-driven demand for electricity is increasing, and many are turning to solar community gardens for a climate-proof energy supply. These renewable energy resources may decrease your electricity bill, but the location chosen for solar gathering and generating equipment may not be as efficient as the panels placed on them.
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences assessed the siting locations of 161 solar energy facilities in California. Turns out a majority of the solar sites were located in remote scrublands and less than 15% in developed areas.
Why should this matter to you? Solar sites that are placed outside of areas where people dwell aren’t as efficient. The further energy has to travel, the greater the energy losses. And energy lost equals money lost. In addition to transmission losses, these longer-distance transmission corridors cost more to build and may degrade the natural environment.
So, with solar power, location is a surprisingly important variable. It’s all very well to get yourself a climate-proof energy supply, but you want the electricity to be loss-proof too. Many of the solar installations surveyed were located in croplands and pastures. (It appears farmers are harvesting a new crop – electricity!) If you’re considering making the switch to community solar, find or help build a solar community garden in a dead-space area within your town, such as a landfill, parking lot, rooftop, and anywhere else near to where energy is being consumed. You’ll save big on transmission costs. Your town’s policymakers may also want to read the study to see how they can help residents increase their energy sources by building solar into the nearby human-affected landscape.