How do solar panels affect the environment?: 2020 Analysis

How do solar panels affect the environment?

Solar panels are one of the most widely used technology to convert solar energy into electricity.

Although, Countries are adopting solar energy for an environmentally friendly future of energy.

But, Are solar panels really that ‘green’?

Well, Nothing is perfect and solar panels too have some positive and negative sides.

However, despite its negative sides, using solar technology lead to reductions in carbon emissions in comparison to fossil fuels(especially coal). This makes the technology extremely beneficial.

Let’s first talk about how solar panels positively affects the environment:

Positive Effects of Solar panels

Solar panels do have a lot of benefits.

Also, not only solar panels but solar energy provides numerous benefits. 

If you want to know more benefits of solar energy, you can go through our previous posts in which we have discussed 21 surprising benefits of solar energy

Let’s discuss the panel’s positive impacts:

1.Renewable Energy Source

As long as the Sun last, solar energy will be around.

So, Solar energy is considered a renewable source of energy. 

We won’t run out of it or be in short supply.

According to NASA, we have about 4.5 billion years to take advantage of solar energy.

2.Reduce Energy Imports

Using Solar panels reduce energy dependency, either it is of an individual to his state or of a country on another country.

Generally, countries import fossil fuel, oil, natural gas, and other non-renewable energy sources. 

That not only leads to the loss of the environment but also these sources are limited and if we keep using them at the same pace then we would run out of them very soon.

How solar panel affects positively
Solar Roof Installation

3.Easy Availability

We all know that sunlight is available everywhere around the world where humans live.

All you need is to install a solar panel on your roof or land available and get energy independence. 

However, the amount of energy produced will depend on the type of solar panel you are using.

However, at night times, sunlight is not available. Various battery backup systems are used to store electricity for later usage.

4.Low Maintenance

Solar panel systems do not need much maintenance. However, you need to clean dirt periodically that deposits on its surface, and that does not need much cost.

If you use an Off-grid system or hybrid systems, these systems include batteries, then you need to change the distilled water used on a regular basis.

5.Low Carbon Emissions

Using fossil fuels produces a huge amount of carbon-di-oxide and other greenhouse gases which plays a major role in air pollution and can lead to critical diseases & even death.

In particular, solar panels do not release any harmful gases while converting sunlight into electricity.

Adopting renewable energy either it is solar, wind or any other will help the environment in reducing air pollution and building a better future.

Negative Effects of Solar panels

As we have discussed above that Solar panels do not release any harmful gases while converting sunlight into electricity.

But, Solar panels aren’t that green. The manufacturing process of solar panels is not that environment friendly.

Let’s see how?

1.Water Requirement

Water is used in the manufacturing of solar PV components.

Solar Thermal Power plants require water for cooling turbine generators. 

Some solar plants use water for cleaning solar collectors and concentrators.

Further, the amount of water consumed depends upon the size of the system used.

Using a large amount of ground or surface water for cleaning collectors in some arid regions, that is, the locations that do not have enough water to support the growth of plants may affect the ecosystems that depend on these water resources.

2.Toxic Chemicals Usage

Hazardous chemicals are used to clean and purify the semiconductor surface.

These toxic chemicals include hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, and acetone. 

Some solar thermal systems use potentially hazardous fluids to transfer heat. 

Leaks of these materials could be harmful to the environment. 

Also, U.S. environmental laws regulate the use and distribution of these types of materials.

3.Habitat Loss

Large solar power plants can affect the environment in nearby locations. 

Clearing land for construction and setup of the power plants may have long-term effects on the habitats of plants and animals.

Setting up a plant on land can cause land degradation and habitat loss. 

Also, we cannot share the same land for agricultural uses.

What we can do to minimize the negative effects?

However, you cannot change the manufacturing process of solar panels but can reduce the losses by doing some things.

Solar panels installed on the land can cause habitat loss but doing roof installation you can reduce habitat loss.

Utility-scale solar systems should be set up on lower-quality locations such as brownfields, abandoned mining land.

FAQs

Q. Are solar panels really that ‘green’?

Ans. Solar panels aren’t perfect. However, Solar panels do not release any harmful gases while converting sunlight into electricity. 

The manufacturing process of solar panels is not that environmentally friendly.

Q. How do solar panels affect the environment? 

Ans. Solar panels affect the environment in the following ways:

  1. Water requirement in the manufacturing of solar panels.
  2. Toxic chemical usage in manufacturing can cause health risks.
  3. Utility solar power plats take a lot of space that results in environmental degradation and habitat loss.

Q.  What are the environmental benefits of solar energy?

Ans. Solar power has many environmental, health, and financial benefits. Some are:

  1. Reduce Greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. Reduction in energy imports.
  3. Reduces air pollution.
  4. Solar energy is renewable.

Final Words

Solar energy is becoming a trend in renewable energy.

However, it is not perfect but overall it provides a positive net environmental and financial impact.

In this post, I have tried my best to explain how do solar panels affect the environment.

We are still in the embryonic state of moving towards renewable energy. 

It will be quite interesting to talk about the history of solar power, that is, how the journey of solar started.

In our previous posts, we have already discussed the working of solar panels and how these panels originated.  

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See you in the next post!

Keerti Bhatnagar

Keerti is a tech geek with a vision to save the environment. She is from Uttarakhand, India. And, She is currently pursuing her MCA from G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar.

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