The Role of Solar Power in Improving Air Quality in Utah

The Role of Solar Power in Improving Air Quality in Utah

Going Solar = Cleaner Air for Utah

If you’ve stumbled upon this, it’s safe to say you’re pretty concerned about the air quality in Utah—and rightly so! It’s no secret that we’ve been dealing with this issue for some time now. The unique geography and weather conditions of Utah’s valleys make it difficult to escape the pollutants that get trapped, resulting in some seriously stagnant air and higher pollution levels in the valleys. 


To make matters worse, human activities like industrial production, vehicle emissions, residential wood burning, and wildfires only add to the problem. While Utah has taken some steps towards using renewable energy, like solar power, to improve the situation, it’s clear that there are still many opportunities to work together to help us breathe easy 

image of solar installers putting in solar panels

The Impressive Rise of Solar Power in Utah

Did you know that Utah is not only famous for its jaw-dropping landscapes but also for securing the 9th spot in the United States for solar power generation? By the end of 2022, the beehive state installed an impressive 1,537 megawatts (MW). However, as we delve deeper, we will uncover that the state’s commitment to solar power is more nuanced than initially presumed.

How Solar Keeps Utah Air Clean

Solar power is a game-changer when it comes to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Not only does it provide a direct and sustainable energy source by converting sunlight into electricity, but it also helps to diminish the need for coal, oil, and natural gas as sources of electricity production. Plus, solar power systems can even give back to the grid by feeding excess energy through net metering programs, meaning you can store and use surplus energy during periods of low solar production. That’s not all— solar power can even help charge electric vehicles, meaning less dependence on gasoline and diesel derived from fossil fuels and fewer carbon emissions!

Image of coal fired power plant smokestack with the text " Utah Energy" 64% of Utah’s electricity net generation came from coal-fired power plants in 2021. SOURCE: Utah Energy and Innovation Plan" Graphic made by HEAL Utah

Now, it’s true that manufacturing and disposal of solar panels has environmental implications, but advancements in technology and production practices have greatly reduced their energy and resource requirements. Plus, recycling of solar panels at the end of their lifespan is becoming more popular, further reducing their environmental impact. We need to look at the bigger picture here: the long-term environmental benefits of solar energy, such as the significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and decreased dependence on fossil fuels. With continued investment in research and sustainable practices, solar panels can continue to evolve as an increasingly eco-friendly and viable energy solution for a greener future.

When considering solar energy, it is important to take into account the potential environmental and justice implications. The production of solar panels requires resource extraction, which can have negative environmental impacts and disproportionately affect marginalized communities. Manufacturing and supply chain processes should also be sustainable and consider fair treatment of workers. Proper recycling and waste management methods are crucial to minimize harm. The transition to solar energy should also prioritize equitable access to economic benefits and job opportunities. It is important to proactively address these implications to maximize the positive impacts of solar power

Utah's Solar Future and Incentives

Utah has the opportunity to become a leader in solar. Currently, Utah’s solar energy has an impressive 63%  of the state’s renewable capacity and contributes 8% to overall electric generation. This growth is due to the increase in utility-scale solar farms located in counties such as Emery, Carbon, and Beaver. Utah’s commitment to cleaner energy will be reinforced by the wave of new utility-scale solar farms set to be operational in the coming years. 

Utah's Energy and Innovation Plan

The Utah Energy and Innovation Plan is a crucial blueprint for a more sustainable future. This policy aims to promote energy innovation and conservation and usher in a cleaner, more efficient era. The plan outlines a multifaceted approach that relies on collaboration among industries, government bodies, and educational institutions. It’s not just a strategy; it’s an invitation for all of us to be catalysts of change. As advocates for a greener tomorrow, we have the power to strengthen this plan. Your insights, concerns, and active participation matter. Engage, voice your thoughts, and fuel the momentum towards a brighter, cleaner Utah. Reflect on the plan and let your voice shape its course. Together, we can fortify this framework and steer Utah towards an energy future that echoes for generations.

Utah offers solar incentives to promote sustainable progress and encourage solar adoption. These incentives include net metering, property tax exemptions, streamlined interconnection standards, and solar access rights. With net metering, solar system owners can earn credits for excess electricity they contribute to the grid, offsetting future consumption. Property tax exemptions prevent increased taxes for residential and commercial solar installations. Streamlined interconnection standards simplify grid connection for renewable systems, while solar access rights protect homeowners’ freedom to use solar energy. These incentives empower individuals and contribute to Utah’s renewable energy goals and a cleaner future. However, the tax credit incentives for residential and commercial solar installations are capped and  set to expire in 2024.

Utah supports both utility-scale and small-scale solar ventures through tax incentives such as the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Renewable Energy Systems Tax Credit (RESTC) program. Learn more: https://cesolar.com/what-we-do/residential-solar/utah-solar-incentives/


Navigating Challenges: Threats to Solar Power Generation in Utah

While Utah’s solar energy trajectory is undeniably promising, it’s crucial to acknowledge the challenges that may cast a shadow on its bright future. Several factors pose potential threats to solar power generation in the state.


  • Regulatory Uncertainty: Shifting policies and regulations can disrupt the solar industry’s stability. Changes in incentives, tax credits, or permitting processes could impact the financial viability of solar projects and deter potential investors.
  • Aging Infrastructure: As solar energy adoption surges, existing infrastructure might need upgrades or modifications to accommodate the increased electricity flow, potentially leading to delays and additional costs.
  • Public Perception and Education: Misinformation or lack of awareness about solar technology’s benefits and potential could hinder public support and participation in solar initiatives.


Addressing these challenges requires a concerted effort from policymakers, industry stakeholders, and communities. By proactively tackling these threats, Utah can further solidify its position as a renewable energy leader while ensuring a sustainable and resilient solar power future.

In Conclusion: A bright future for Solar in Utah

Solar power is playing a vital role in improving air quality and shaping Utah’s future. The state has made remarkable progress by embracing community projects and research and development. Solar power can reduce reliance on fossil fuels, contribute to grid stability, and charge electric vehicles. Despite challenges like environmental implications and the need for continued policy support, Utah’s dedication to solar energy remains unwavering. Let us embrace the sun’s energy and work together to create a cleaner, greener future for generations to come.


This blog post is in partnership with Creative Energies Solar, a B-certified corporation that HEAL Utah trusts as a source of expertise. Visit their website to learn more about their services and get a $500 discount as a HEAL supporter. Just mention your support for HEAL Utah!


  • “2023 Utah Solar Incentives.” Utah Solar Incentives – Creative Energies Solar, cesolar.com/what-we-do/residential-solar/utah-solar-incentives/. Accessed 29 June 2023.
  • Cox, Spencer J. “Utah Energy and Innovation Plan.” Office of Energy Development, 22 Sept. 2022, www.energy.utah.gov/plan/.
  • “Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.” EPA, www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator. Accessed 29 June 2023.
  • “U.S. Energy Information Administration – EIA – Independent Statistics and Analysis.” EIA, 20 Apr. 2023, www.eia.gov/state/analysis.php?sid=UT.
  • Vandenberg, Michael D. “Utahs Energy Landscape 5th Edition.” Utah Office of Energy Development, energy.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/Utahs-Energy-Landscape-5th-Edition.pdf. Accessed 5 July 2023.