Oftentimes, when the term renewable energy is said out loud, solar energy pops into our minds. It’s a major source of clean energy that doesn’t emit greenhouse gasses. Thanks to it, we can generate green electricity.
Nowadays, you are bound to notice solar-powered homes in many places, but that’s not all. They are also available on commercial premises. For instance, schools, offices, and companies are now using it as a source of clean energy. Solar energy is not only clean but also affordable and safe for the environment. But even so, it also has a fair share of negative attributes.
Let’s have a look at the environmental impact of solar energy:
Harnessing the power of solar energy to generate electricity helps reduce carbon emissions in the environment. But how does it work? Well, you need solar panels or photovoltaic cells to capture sunlight energy and convert it to electricity. If we can maximize it, then everyone across the world will receive enough energy to fulfill their needs.
A solar panel comprises solar cells that are based on silicon. The silicon serves as the semiconductor. To create an electric field, there’s an overlapping layer of semiconductors and other materials like boron and phosphorus.
Together, they create positive and negative layers. When solar cells get into contact with sunshine, free electrons are knocked off thus generating electricity.
Energy sources based on fossil fuels are not healthy for the environment. That’s because they are non-renewable sources. But solar energy on the other is renewable. As long as the sun continues to shine, the solar panels will continue to generate electric energy.
Having said that, here are the positive impact of solar energy:
Lower Carbon Emission
Continuous burning of fossil-based fuels pollutes the environment with carbon dioxide. Such fuels include petroleum, coal, and natural gas. Besides, the combustion of these fuels emits other toxic gasses and residues.
For instance, in the US, the combustion of fossil fuels accounts for over 50% of greenhouse gasses. Not to mention, the release of these gasses into the environment causes air pollution. It also escalates environmental issues such as global warming and climate change.
According to the US Energy Department, fossil fuels emit the highest concentration of carbon into the environment. On the other hand, solar panels emit less CO2. As such, it’s safer for the environment. According to their finding, the carbon intensity of solar energy is around 40gCO2/kWh.
On the other hand, the carbon production intensity of fossil fuels is about 1000gCO2/kWh. This shows you that fossil fuels pollute the environment twenty-five times more than solar energy sources.
Therefore, by using solar panels, we can significantly lower the rate of carbon emission into the environment. And the sun just happens to be the major source of energy that solar panels convert to electricity.
Lowers Air Pollution
The quality of air around us not only affects the environment but also all living things including us. Therefore, it’s important to reduce air pollution to safeguard our health and that of the environment. Power from fossil fuels undoubtedly leads to poor air quality since they generate methane and CO2, which lowers the quality of air.
Accumulation of these harmful gasses in the atmosphere leads to acidic rainfall. The negative impact of this type of rainfall affects the entire ecosystem. It not only pollutes soil and water bodies, but it can also harm us and the animals.
However, relying on solar panels means you can say goodbye to these harmful gasses. Solar energy is emission-free, which means the environment and everything within it is safe.
Waters tops among the most essential resources existing naturally in our environment. While there’s plenty of it around us, in the sea, lakes, swamps, rivers, and oceans, it’s still scarce. Clean water in the environment is decreasing at an alarming rate.
For typical energy sources, water plays a vital part. It’s necessary during the production and transportation of the power from the source to consumers. Manufacturers for example rely on hundreds and thousands of liters of water to harness power from conventional sources. While some of the water end up in water bodies, part of it evaporates or gets contaminated.
But when we leverage solar energy for electricity purposes, we can conserve the little water we have. This approach also prevents the entry of toxic gases and chemicals into the water bodies.
Protects Non-renewable Resources
Truth be told, most of our natural resources are limited. As such, using them indiscriminately means the future generation will not have any to tap on. Therefore, we must conserve coal, natural gas, and oil. The more we rely on them to generate energy, the more they run out.
Solar energy on the other hand is sustainable. That’s because it’s a renewable source of energy. Since it’s available in abundance, it can help reduce the cost of energy/. Not to mention, it’s a clean energy source, which means there’s no carbon emission.
Solve Climate Change
The major effect of relying on fossil fuels is climate change. That’s because it leads to high concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But with solar energy, there’s no cause for alarm when it comes to greenhouse gases.
Thanks to it, we can all tap into clean energy for residential and commercial purposes. It helps fight the effects of climate change on our environment. As per the US finding on the use of solar energy, there’s a significant improvement in global warming. This industry effect so far is comparable to growing about two billion trees.
To convert solar energy to electric power, we need solar panels. They help us generate clean energy with nontoxic emissions. However, some may say that solar isn't that perfect just like many things in life. It has a fair share of drawbacks, but it is a better solution than other types of energies. Besides the great benefits it comes with, it is important to note potential concerns and solutions.
Concern: Toxic Materials and Chemicals During Production
While solar panels help us harness clean energy from the sun, their production leaves behind a carbon footprint. During the production of solar panels, the manufacturers use toxic materials and chemicals to make superconductors. Also, the quantity of these chemicals relies on the size of the solar panel size.
Solution: Some might have a concern about toxic materials and chemicals during production, but the impacts are short term. Solar panels are only built during a short period of time – but there impacts last years. The impacts of panels on the environment are significantly better long term for the environment.
Concern: Loss of habitat
Unlike hydroelectric power sources or wind power sources, solar panels don’t share space with other economic activities. Once you set aside land for it, that’s it.
Oftentimes, the lands get cleared to create room for solar plants. That means wildlife including vegetation suffers a great loss.
Solution: Solar experts can help determine where the best place Is to put solar panels.
If you are concerned about habitat loss, a solar expert can help ensure that no habitats are harmed during the process of solar panel installation.
Concern: Energy Intensive
You need a massive amount of energy to produce solar panels. This starts from the mining stage to the production phase at the factory.
Also, it requires the use of other natural resources to make essential elements like silicon for these panels. So why not just use other types of energy?
Solution: While solar panels can take up an immense amount of energy to produce. However, the amount of energy to produce these panels is short term.
Solar panels can help generate cleaner energy for years in comparison to the use of fossil fuels.
Solar energy is a reliable source of clean electricity. When you install, solar panels to tap into it, the last thing to worry about is power outages. Speaking of power outages, California tends to experience power outages at any time of the year due for various reasons. Oftentimes, the cause is natural disasters like tropical storms and floods.
Claremont in particular is not exempted from these natural calamities that lead to power outages. For instance, early this year, over 70, 000 residents in California were left in the dark due to powerful winds. Not to mention, the region also experiences thousands of interrupted power outages.
Just recently, residents in Pomona, Hawthorne, and Carson were complaining of power outages. Some of these power breaks can take hours leading to devasting losses. If you have frozen food or perishable items that rely on cooling preservation, that’s a total loss. However, you can escape these losses by installing solar panels.
This area in California receives over 282 days of sunshine annually. That means you have unlimited solar energy to tap into.
By installing the solar panels, you can benefit from these:
Let’s face it, solar energy isn’t perfect. However, it promises greater rewards than risks when we use it. Of course, the creation of solar panels is energy-intensive and requires the mining of natural resources. Not to mention, the use of chemicals is part of the manufacturing process. While you can’t argue over this, the overall negative impact doesn’t outdoor its positive attributes.
And that’s what makes it better than conventional energy sources like fossil fuels. It’s said that the total impact of creating the solar panel will be recovered within 2 years or less. Even when you consider the emission as a result of solar panel production, they are far less. They are not comparable to that of energy generated using fossil fuels.