Solar Energy Infographics: Environmental Benefits

Climate change is disrupting the earth’s natural balance. It is posing a risk to humans and other life forms. Solar is a primary solution to reversing the impacts of years of pollution.

The U.S. Department of Energy is fighting for a solar future. It has established a goal of installing an average of 30 GW of solar capacity each year between now and 2025. That number will increase to 60 GW between 2025-2030.

The question now is, are these efforts paying off? The answer: is yes, but we still face challenges in some areas.

Read on to learn more about solar energy’s environmental benefits based on case studies and research.

Case Studies Show Environmental Improvements in Businesses Throughout the U.S.

Many businesses have seen the benefits of solar installation. The following companies have witnessed an improvement in conditions after making the switch.

Boulder Nissan

This Colorado car dealership saw a 65% reduction in fossil fuel-generated electricity. They reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 within their first year of going solar. They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.

Valley Electric Association

This Nevada utility company created a solar electricity garden in 2015 to make the state more dependent on solar power and reduce its carbon footprint. It allows customers to purchase 100% of their energy from the clean power it produces.

The garden ended up producing more energy than expected yielding 32,680,000 kw per year, enough to power 4000 homes. It reduced dependence on the grid, decreased pollution, and served as an inspirational example of how residents and utility companies can work together to promote clean energy.

Las Vegas Casinos

Las Vegas casinos are a major source of energy use. Many are installing solar panels on their rooftops to cut costs and save the environment. The installations also help minimize disruptions to the grid, which can result in a considerable loss of income.

Boston College

Boston College committed to several energy-efficient initiatives over the past few years. The institution experimented with solar cells across the campus to determine which areas produced the most energy. They found solar cells near St. Clemens Hall helped them reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. enough to save 10,869 trees.

Case Studies Show Solar Benefits for NonProfits

Many nonprofits have invested in solar to cut service-related expenses and do their part to save the environment. Here are some examples.

Resiliency Hub

Advocate Queen Shabazz aimed to address climate change issues in the low-income city of Petersburg, VA by creating a Resiliency Hub that would keep the community powered in the event of an emergency. It also serves as a gathering place with an eatery. The rooftop system offers 33kW of solar power from a 60kWh lithium battery. 

Greater Bergen Community Action

Greater Bergen Community Action aims to help low-income residents by providing education, healthcare, housing, and other necessary services. They installed a system to reduce energy costs, which also resulted in environmental benefits. Their rooftop-mounted system produced 118kW of energy across all three of their sites.

U.S. Air is Getting Cleaner but Help is Needed in Low-Income Areas

An environmental health study conducted by Yanelli Nunez, an environmental health scientist with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, revealed that air pollution has decreased in wealthy areas but is not as noticeable in low-income, minority neighborhoods.

The study found that air pollution significantly declined between 1970 and 2010 from all sources except for ammonia emissions from agriculture fertilizer and organic carbon particle emissions from indoor heating in residential areas. However, low-income, minority communities are not seeing the benefits.

Hispanic and American Indian communities are especially affected. These areas have seen increases in air pollutants, including nitrogen oxide, ammonia, and sulfur dioxide.

The Columbia University study is far from the first to cite the disparities in global pollution effects in low-income areas. A 2023 study looked at air pollution throughout the world. It found that 716 million of the world’s lowest-income people, living on less than $1.90 per day, live with unsafe levels of air pollution. Saharan Africa is a prime example.

The American Lung Association reviewed several studies to determine the disparities in the impact of air pollution. The organization found that people in racial and ethnic groups in low socioeconomic positions have a higher risk of pollution-related death.  A 2016 study conducted in New Jersey revealed that residents in African American communities with lower incomes and home values had a greater risk of dying due to particle pollution exposure.

Experts believe several factors contribute to the low-income-minority pollution connection. For example, pollution sources are more prevalent in low-income neighborhoods. These people also have limited access to healthcare and are more likely to engage in other unhealthy behaviors.

Fortunately, the Inflation Reduction Act is attempting to make solar more accessible in underserved communities through production and investment tax credits.

A Case Study of Solar Energy in South Carolina

South Carolina was targeted for a 2021 case study on solar energy adoption. The state was chosen due to its abundance of year-round sunlight, which is countered by slow solar adoption rates. It varies from the neighboring North Carolina, which has less favorable climate conditions and higher adoption rates.

The study observes trends in solar energy adoption throughout the U.S. It notes that America reached a 71.3 GW solar capacity installation in 2019, enough to power 13.5 million homes. That number was expected to double within the next five years.

It also points out several of the environmental benefits of solar. It mentions a reduction in air pollution, water conservation, and a reduced dependence on fossil fuels and other non-renewable energy sources. It argues that if solar can provide 14% of the electricity demand by 2030, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10% and save the U.S. about $250 billion in climate change-associated damages.

It also points out other benefits like cost savings and improvements in human health. It finds that the switch to solar energy can prevent 25,000 to 59,000 pollution-related deaths. It would also lower medical expenses.

The study then considers various factors that drive slow adoption rates in South Carolina. For example, many citizens do not trust the General Assembly to adopt policies like cost-sharing and net metering, which would make solar more affordable.

The study also identifies the various electric co-ops that provide electricity in rural areas of South Carolina. Some are unwilling to accept solar adoption.

Another factor is a mistrust of utility companies among residents. Many feel that the companies won’t deliver on promised incentives.

The study concludes that the state should learn valuable lessons from its neighbors in North Carolina. These include stronger net metering policies, faster installation processes, and fewer interconnection delays to produce a more streamlined process.

2024 Update

South Carolina continues its efforts to improve solar adoption. It currently places in the top 15 states for solar power generation. The state also offers a solar tax credit of 25% off solar installation costs or up to $3500. A new grant program has been created to bring power to Americans with limited income living in southern states, including South Carolina. For information on full incentives available for your solar project, Solar America can connect you with local installers!

An Environmental Case for Rooftop Solar in California

California has long been a leader in the fight against pollution. A 2021 report from Environment America shows rooftop solar may be the key to the state’s fight against climate change. It proposes an efficient system for solar installation on homes, businesses, schools, and other buildings throughout the state.

The report establishes how solar can help the state transition to 100% clean energy, thereby protecting its outdoor spaces and making it more resilient to power grid disruptions. It will help the state reach its goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100% retail electricity sales from renewable and zero-carbon sources by 2045.

The state has been working towards these goals with efforts to quadruple its rooftop solar capacity from 10.5 gigawatts to 39 gigawatts. A 2016 National Renewable Energy Laboratory analysis found that the state has the potential to reach three-quarters of its electricity demand with rooftop solar. Additionally, rooftop solar can be installed more quickly than other electricity-generating sources, helping the state quickly respond to the energy crisis.

Furthermore, rooftop solar does not affect agricultural land or wildlife habitats. At the time the report was written, state regulators predicted an additional 28.5 GW of solar would be built by 2045, resulting in the maintenance of 148,000 acres of natural land use. These goals would be more easily met with a 2020 executive order from Gavin Newsome that would protect 30% of the state’s natural land and water areas by 2030, a 22% increase over what was currently protected.

Another benefit of rooftop solar is its ability to produce energy close to where it is consumed. It reduces the need for new transmission infrastructure, which could potentially destroy natural lands. It also ensures residents will have access to electricity in emergencies.

The report concludes that California’s updated net metering policies should allow for faster rooftop solar growth. It should provide affordable installation through financing and incentives. It should also establish an automated permitting system to speed up the installation process.

2024 Update

California is behind on its solar goals, but new measures are helping the state catch up.

The California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA) proposes measures to get California back on track by offering more protections to solar businesses, creating investments in solar energy storage, restoring multi-meter properties, and expanding virtual power plant programs.

Recycling Solar can Further Increase Environmental Benefits

Statistics show up to 30% of environmental waste is sourced from construction and demolition. Although solar accounts for just a fraction of this waste, recycling solar products can significantly reduce these numbers.

Honeysuckle Solar, a solar company in Indiana, devoted its efforts to recycling damaged products that arrived at their site. They reported that thousands of the 400,000 panels they receive arrive damaged. They committed to sending 100% of those panels back to the manufacturer for recycling purposes.

They reported that most of the waste they see is typical for a construction site consisting of wood, plastic, cardboard, and scrap metal. They separate and sort the materials so they can be picked up by a local recycling agency. In doing so, they reduce materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill by 88%.

The company also sees cost benefits from its recycling program. The fee they pay their recyclers is less than what they would pay a dumpster service to haul off their goods. Their savings allow them to keep costs competitive and provide recycling services for their clients.  


The environmental benefits of solar are undeniable. They can be coupled with cost savings to enhance advantages further. When you’re ready to make the move, Solar America is here to help.

Solar America provides quotes from solar companies so you can find the one best suited to your needs. We have helped millions of homeowners connect with solar providers over the past 15+ years. Submit your information and one of our representatives will get back to you with a free, no-obligation quote in minutes.

Contact us to do your part to save the environment.

"I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that." - Thomas Edison

"I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that." - Thomas Edison