Solar Facts and Fiction

With so much information available on solar power flying around, the real facts are sometimes obscured by myths. Fortunately, more and more people are discovering the truth about solar—it saves money and grows the economy. Nevertheless, mistaken beliefs about solar persist—“it’s too expensive,” “too complicated,” “too unreliable”. In reality, going solar really is far easier and less costly than most people think, for everyone involved. Below we debunk some of the most persistent myths about solar.  Take a look and share your favorite solar facts on Twitter and Facebook!

How Solar Works

Fiction: 

Solar power isn’t a viable alternative to fossil fuels and nuclear power.

Fact: 

Solar is booming in Massachusetts. It’s the fastest growing source of power in the state and has grown 200x since 2006.

Fiction: 

Solar isn’t reliable because it doesn’t generate power on cloudy days or at night.

Fact: 

Solar power works when it’s cloudy, works at night when paired with batteries, and is very valuable during heat waves to power your AC.

Fiction: 

Solar is inefficient.

Fact: 

Solar is highly efficient at providing local power, avoiding losses from generation, transmission, mining, processing, and transportation.

Fiction: 

Solar panels don’t save greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Fact: 

Solar power is carbon free and solar panels pay back their manufacturing GHG emissions in as little as 1-2 years.

Solar and Our Electricity Grid

Fiction: 

The electricity grid can’t handle solar.

Fact: 

Solar doesn’t stress the grid, as Germany has proven. Their grid is 5x more solar-powered than ours and is 15x more reliable.

Fiction: 

Solar owners don’t pay their fair share to maintain the electricity grid.

Fact: 

Solar owners often pay to upgrade the grid, and the costs to install solar and maintain it – all at no risk or cost to the utility.

Fiction: 

Solar power drives the need for expensive grid upgrades.

Fact: 

The need for grid upgrades is driven by our aging infrastructure and insufficient investment in the electricity network over the last 20 years.

Fiction: 

Solar is causing a utility “death spiral”.

Fact: 

With only 2% of Mass electricity coming from solar – reports of a utility death spiral are greatly exaggerated.

Fiction: 

Solar power is unpredictable.

Fact: 

Modern forecasting allows solar power to be effectively and predictably integrated into the electricity grid at a large scale.

How Much Power Solar Can Generate

Fiction: 

Solar is a net energy loser.

Fact: 

Solar generates 15x more energy than is used to manufacture panels.  Natural gas power plants produce just 7x more energy than they consume.

Fiction: 

Solar energy is intermittent and requires fossil fuel generators as backup.

Fact: 

A diversified portfolio of solar, wind, hydro plus energy efficiency can absolutely provide the electricity needed in all 50 states.

Fiction: 

There isn’t enough land for solar.

Fact: 

If we put solar on the 9.6 million acres used for coal mining and mountain top removal it would supply over 100% of US electricity demand.

Fiction: 

Massachusetts doesn’t have enough sun.

Fact: 

A National Renewable Energy Lab report shows solar can deliver more than double Massachusetts’ electricity demand.

Who Benefits from Solar

Fiction: 

Low income families can’t afford solar.

Fact: 

Solar is affordable and increasingly available to moderate and low income families with no money down thanks to innovative financing.

Fiction: 

Only people with big homes and south facing roofs can benefit from solar.

Fact: 

Policies like virtual net metering and community shared solar give everyone equal access to solar, whether they own a sunny roof or not.

Fiction: 

Solar hurts home resale value.

Fact: 

Solar homes sell faster and with higher resale values than non-solar homes, and demand for solar homes is high.

Fiction: 

Solar power is too expensive.

Fact: 

Solar power is cost effective today. It costs less than conventional power in Mass and is 50% less expensive than it was 5 years ago.

Who Pays for Solar

Fiction: 

Solar customers shift costs from solar customers to non-solar customers.

Fact: 

Most solar owners pay an electricity bill each month covering the utility’s cost to serve them, thus shifting no costs. 

Fiction: 

Solar power raises electricity rates for non-solar customers.

Fact: 

Solar power lowers electricity costs for all of us by providing cheaper power during summer peak and reducing the need for costly transmission lines.

Fiction: 

Solar incentives are excessive.

Fact: 

Solar creates 3x more jobs per $1 invested than fossil fuels. Even so, fossil fuel subsidies are far larger than solar incentives.

Fiction: 

Subsidies for solar are the reason electricity bills are going up.

Fact: 

Natural gas is increasing electricity bills, not solar. Solar saves more than it costs because it’s cheaper than old dirty power plants.

Fiction: 

Solar incentives are subsidies paid by low income people to help rich people install solar.

Fact: 

Lower income households are helping to drive the solar boom in MA, and solar is increasingly available in low income communities.