Green power vs. rooftop solar
Last updated 6/7/2019
Both green power and rooftop solar are viable solutions for someone looking to get their energy from a renewable source. If you’re considering a green power plan with your utility, it may be helpful to compare the benefits from green power and solar in order to find the best energy resource for your home or business.
Environmental impacts of green power and rooftop solar
Both rooftop solar projects and utility green power plans involve energy from renewable sources that have very low environmental impacts. Solar is one of the technologies under the “green power” umbrella, so both options are a strong choice to reduce your impact on the environment.
Specifically, choosing green power or rooftop solar to provide your home electricity drastically reduces the greenhouse gas emissions that can be attributed to your personal energy use. Conventional fuel sources (coal or natural gas, for example) release pollutants including greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when they are burned, while renewable sources like wind, solar, and hydro power only cause pollution during the production of the equipment.
One small difference in environmental impact between green power and rooftop solar comes in the form of land use. Green power programs rely on the mass production of clean energy, which requires land to be developed. For example, a utility may install several acres worth of solar panels, or build large wind turbines throughout an undeveloped landscape. In contrast, an under-recognized benefit of rooftop solar is that you are repurposing an already developed surface. Adding solar panels to your roof doesn’t alter any untouched landscape; rather, it makes further use of an already functional space.
Green power vs. rooftop solar economics
The biggest difference between green power and rooftop solar is in their economic benefits. Most obviously, rooftop solar involves owning or leasing your own personal energy generation system, while choosing a green power program doesn’t give you actual ownership over anything.
This has many economic impacts, namely, your ability to save money long-term. A green power program will cost less money out of pocket to begin with, but over time a rooftop solar system will save you significant money on your electric bills. This is because once your system’s payback period is up, you are essentially your own electric utility, producing electricity by yourself rather than paying your utility for it. Aside from small maintenance costs that are usually covered by solar warranties, long-term ownership of a rooftop solar array can save you thousands of dollars.
Green power and rooftop solar: can they go hand in hand?
There are many clean energy solutions available, with more cropping up regularly as technology advances. Luckily, you don’t just have to pick one renewable energy generation method. When it comes to green power programs and rooftop solar installations, pairing the two options together may be your most effective option.
If your rooftop solar array doesn’t provide all of the electricity you need for your home, you can cover the remainder with a small green power purchase. That way, your home will be entirely powered by renewables for a minimum environmental impact. And don’t worry about producing more power than you need once you add a green power purchase – by installing a solar battery system, you can store any extra solar production for backup to make sure you have power in the event of a power outage.