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Could Solar Power Help Save the World?

October 22, 2021

You have probably heard politicians and climate change experts bemoaning the future of our planet. Many argue that humankind has waited too long to take action, and now there is only the “slimmest of opportunities remaining” to avoid total environmental chaos. But it might not all be doom and gloom after all, thanks to solar power.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change

Fossil fuels are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions that trap heat and send the earth barreling toward 2.7 degrees F above preindustrial temperatures—the point of no return that could make it impossible to get the climate back to normal.

Fortunately, switching to renewable energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions without asking society to return to the Stone Age. The idea that people could rely primarily on renewable energy isn’t naively optimistic—it could actually work thanks to the falling costs and skyrocketing installation rates of solar panels.

Falling Solar Prices

Starting in about 2016, solar prices suddenly started to drop. It rapidly went from being one of the most expensive energy sources to one of the cheapest. Today, producing one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity using solar photovoltaics (PV) costs about $50 compared to $102 for coal.

In 2009, it cost $350 for PV energy, while coal remained around $102. This clearly indicates that the time of solar has arrived, which is great news for the entire planet!

Skyrocketing Solar Installations

Power producers have been responding to lower costs with an explosion of solar projects. Indeed, the US increased its solar power capacity by about 50 percent in just the past two years, now totaling over 100 gigwatts (GW). If the exponential growth of solar continues—along with the corresponding phasing out of fossil fuels and accelerated transition to electric vehicles—greenhouse gas emissions could possibly fall at the rates needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Now is the Time to Act!

The mainstream view is that it’s already too late to decarbonize the atmosphere fast enough to avoid permanently rising temperatures and trouble for the earth’s oceans and wildlife. But remember that just a decade ago, the current plateauing demand for coal and plunging solar prices were also outlandish. That’s why you should never say never—and stop waiting for others to drive change!

If you’re a landowner, you have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the climate by putting unused acreage to good use as a solar farm. Not only can this decision help save the world, but it can put good money in your pocket as well. Many solar developers are willing to offer lease fees that far exceed the per-acre earnings from traditional farming and ranching.

For help negotiating and navigating what can be a complex process with potential solar developers, turn to NLR solar. We have been helping landowners sign fair, profitable solar farm leases since 2014.

Determining your site’s solar suitability is the first step, so contact us today to schedule a free, comprehensive evaluation.

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