There are many reasons people choose to take advantage of renewable energy, and there are many ways to do so as well, and with the cost of solar panels at an all time low, now is a great time to look into options.
In a chart published by Bloomberg, the cost of solar panels per watt in 1977 was $77, in 2012 it was 0.64 cents, and now the cost can be 0.30 cents or lower! With tax incentives for installation, a cheaper electric bill, new batteries made by Tesla, SunRun and other companies to store your excess energy and the thought of knowing that you have energy on hand and the independence to produce your own energy, are definitely some of the major reasons to seriously look into solar.
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla motors, as well as other projects such as SpaceX, The Boring company, and solar city (now a part of Tesla) has estimated that it would take only .6% of the total land in the United States to completely power the country with solar. Tesla has also developed weather resistant solar roof tiles and battery banks, so you can store the energy produced by the tiles, or even your own solar panels.
A UK startup called Renovagen has developed a system where flexible solar panels can be rapidly rolled off of a truck, making for fast and easy deployment in disaster relief areas, industrial operations, deprecated land and countless other situations. There is a lot of very exciting things going on in the solar industry, and the potential is growing by the minute.
Quantum dot solar cells are another exciting prospect for the future of solar energy, this type of solar cell is adept at absorbing infrared, and a larger portion of the solar spectrum more efficiently than traditional silicon cells, they are also "tunable" in the sense that they can be tuned and modulated to absorb varying levels of energy, currently the set record of efficiency for these cells is 10%, however given that they are smaller, and could potentially be more efficient than silicon cells, they could save space, and produce more power than traditional silicon cells.
Wind energy, is another viable option, even if you do not have a sizable amount of land or capital available to you, many companies provide affordable windmills that produce 500w, which are considerably smaller than the titan windmills one might see in Texas and large wind farms, these smaller models could fit on pretty much any roof, garage, homestead grounds or hilltop and have a relatively easy installation process, both on and off the grid. According to General Electric, wind energy has the highest "energy payback ratio" meaning compared to solar, coal, nuclear and natural gas; windmills take the least amount of time to create the power which was used to manufacture the module, also, with the same energy mix comparison, wind has the best energy generation-to use ratio, essentially meaning it is the most efficient at producing energy in general, as the maintenance is relatively low, no inputs required, just the force of the wind.
Energy efficiency, coupled with the installation of an alternative energy system, no matter the size, can be a great asset in home energy security, knowing that when your neighbors power goes out, you will still have power is a great prospect to say the least. You can always add more panels or mills to your system in the future, and starting small is easy to do, just insure that if you are connecting to the grid, you have a professional electrician insure that a safe connection is established, and also let your utility company know that you are connecting to the grid, for the safety of the power line workers, also you might want to ask your utility about their regulation of grid tied residential projects, in some places you can be rewarded for putting renewable energy into the grid in the form of tax credits, other places or utilities may fine you for doing so, if the second choice is the case, going off grid is always an option!
On the subject of efficiency, even just switching all the light bulbs in your house from the old 60w ones, to LEDs which use only 5w per hour, and produce very little heat and can be just as bright and even significantly brighter depending on the type, compared to traditional lightbulbs (5w-10w is usually the standard for households) not to mention the estimated usage life of a single LED bulb is 20+ years! It is a great step toward saving money on your power bill, as is purchasing a blanket for your hot water heater which can decrease the amount of gas required to heat water by 24%-45% being energy efficient really pays off in the long run.