Should You Remove Trees for Solar Panel Performance?
Trees and solar have a similar effect on the environment when it comes to mitigating carbon—but they do not always get along. Trees cause shading and reduce the output and efficiency of solar panels. In most cases, trimming just a few branches may suffice. However, maximizing solar benefits could also mean cutting down a tree or two.
Tree removal is not always an easy decision for homeowners, especially since it seems to defeat the purpose of wanting to help the environment.
Of course, there are other factors too, such as having to pay an arborist to remove the tree. The tree in question could also provide a comforting shade over the backyard or it may be serving an aesthetic benefit.
Does it ever make sense to cut down carbon-absorbing trees just for solar? The answer is, surprisingly, yes. Here is some information that could help you make the right choice.
Will the tree or trees block my solar system?
Trees are massively important in an ecosystem. They absorb carbon dioxide and reduce its harmful concentration in the air we breathe. Once you decide to switch to solar, installers will first evaluate your roof for any obstructions. They find out whether any existing trees will block the sunlight from hitting the spot where the panels should be.
If they identify shading, it’s highly likely they will recommend tree trimming or removal. When solar cells are shaded, a section of the module will produce a different amount of energy than other parts. As a result, the efficiency for the whole panel is reduced.
What’s the trade-off between trees and solar?
According to a study, a mature tree can absorb around 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Meanwhile, a typical 5,000-watt residential solar system operating at 80% efficiency can offset up to 5,760 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution every year for 25 years. It’s actually the equivalent of planting more than 180 trees. It also translates to eliminating over 103 metric tons of CO2 throughout your system’s lifespan!
From a carbon offset standpoint, the solar system is a clear winner. This means, you shouldn’t feel guilty when you’re cutting down one or two trees surrounding your roof. You are still doing the right thing. More so, you can always plant a new tree somewhere else in exchange for the tree you removed.
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