24 Jul

The Massachusetts Pros & Cons of Solar Energy

Every state is unique when it comes to solar due to the different policies that are in place. We will highlight the major pros and cons of solar energy for the State of Massachusetts. If you are interested in solar for your business I can tell you without reading any further that the pros do far outweigh the cons. Over the years, I have spoken with business owners, NABCEP certified solar installers, engineers and environmentalists to get a holistic understanding of the Massachusetts solar market. I found it to be helpful and worth sharing with you so that you may make a better decision if you are currently considering solar or just interested in learning more. Going solar in Massachusetts can either make sense or make stress. Understanding the pros and cons will help you make the proper first step towards going solar.

THE PROS
1. Lower Electric Bill: Electric bills are higher than average in the State of Massachusetts and this allows solar to be very competitive. Not to mention electric bills have been increasing since 1970 according to the Energy Information Association (EIA). The best part about solar is that not only does it allow businesses to lower their electric bill but it also stabilizes electricity costs a predictable rate for up to 25 years. Want to better understand your electric bill? Watch this Video

2. Abundant: The US has some of the richest resources in the World and Massachusetts is a little above average for solar irradiance. On a sunny day, the surface of the earth receives 20,000 times more power than what is needed to supply the entire world’s energy needs

3. Renewable: Solar is self-replenishing through a natural process. The State of Massachusetts recognizes this in its efforts to reduce dependency on non-renewable sources. Download the E Book: An Introduction to Energy

4. Several Technologies: Massachusetts has an unregulated energy market. Solar power is also known as “The People`s Power,” which refers to how easily deployable solar panels are at the consumer level. Watch the Video: Energy Explained in 285 Seconds to learn the difference between Distributed and Centralized electricity production.

5. Little Upkeep: After solar panels are installed they can be monitored online through simple software. Massachusetts has many local solar operations, maintenance and monitoring companies who help with this.

6. Shareable: This is where Massachusetts shines! With all the shaded or bad roofs out there, solar simply does not work for some. Now we have an opportunity to share solar. Virtual Net Metering in Massachusetts is how its gets done. Download the 57 Terms You Must Know for Solar and learn about Massachusetts’s Community Solar and Virtual Net Metering policies!

7. Quiet: Solar panels quietly generate electricity compared to other technologies. There are no boilers and no turbines. As solar powers your Massachusetts business, all you will hear are the birds chirping and maybe the fossil fuel activists griping.

8. Public Financial Funding: Commercial solar power in Massachusetts is growing thanks to state initiatives paired up with the federal incentives. The state has a goal to install 1600 MW of solar by 2020. There are also Massachusetts solar rebates and Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECS) for businesses that install solar.

9. Green: We know that the Boston Celtics are green but so are Bay State businesses. Massachusetts has one of the fastest growing commercial sectors in the United States backed by company leaders who want to go solar!

10. Sustainable: The dependency on fossil fuels are concerning because there is a finite amount. Once they are used up, they are gone. Massachusetts has an initiative in place to reduce carbon emissions called the Renewable Portfolio Standard. Solar is the most sustainable choice of energy.

THE CONS

1. Solar is Expensive: Solar panels are still expensive to pay out-of-pocket which makes solar financing very attractive. It could take years to receive a return on investment (ROI) after buying your solar array with cash but a Power Purchase Agreement reduces your risk and saves you money on day one. Solar receives incentives to help stimulate adoption, but these subsidies are a fraction to what is received by the fossil fuel industry.

2. Intermittent: We all know the sun does not shine at night. Solar, without battery storage, leaves Massachusetts businesses dependent on the grid during cloudy days. However, the community solar and virtual net metering policies mentioned above are designed to get around this challenge.

3. Energy Storage is Expensive: The good news is that Massachusetts’s energy demand peaks in the middle of the day and that is when solar production peaks too. However, as of today going completely off the grid is not economical. This is why the State of Massachusetts mandated that utilities allow independent power producers to interconnect into the grid.

4. Associated with Pollution: Solar is far less polluting than fossil fuels but solar panel manufacturers still have to dispose of sludge and contaminated water during the manufacturing process. Potent greenhouse gases like nitrogen trifluroide and sulfur hexafluoride have been traced back to the making of solar panels. The fact is that no technology is completely emission of pollution free in the energy industry, but solar power does not create additional pollution as it produces electricity.

5. Exotic Materials: Limited Metals like tellurium, lithium and platinum are found only in certain parts of the world. Thin-film solar cells are based on either cadmium telluride (CdTe) or copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) which are expensive and rare. These metals are needed in different aspects of the solar manufacturing process. Research is being invested to overcome this challenge. These rare earth metals are not as common in monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels which are substantially more common than film.

6. Requires Space: Power density is essential when looking for energy sources. The global mean power density for solar radiation is 170 W/m². This is more than any other renewable energy source, but it’s still low comparable to oil, gas and nuclear power. The centralized method of electricity has the production equipment in a remote area and electricity is transported through power lines to your home or business. In a distributed electricity production model, the production equipment is typically on a site like a roof, open land or over a parking lot in a canopy form close to where the electricity is being consumed.

CONCLUSION: We hope you have a clear picture of the major pros and cons for solar energy in the State of Massachusetts. Solar is thriving for the clear reason that the pros outweigh the cons. The #1 pro is that solar offers savings that are stable over time while other energy sources increase in price. The biggest con that we see is finding the right space matched up with the business that wants to go solar. So what are your thoughts on solar? Send us a message!




Wes Morrison

Wes Morrison

Wes Morrison is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Clean Footprint. He can be reached by phone 321-593-2335 or email at wes.morrison@clean-footprint.com.