Bad Things About Solar Energy
Although solar energy has been widely celebrated as being a major step towards a carbon-neutral world, there are some negative points which surround it. Simply put, solar power uses the sun’s energy and transforms it into electricity which can then be used by consumers. It is greener and cheaper, using clever photovoltaic panels to transform light energy into electricity.
Whilst we cannot doubt the important role solar energy is playing in our world, it is not a magic solution to the major problems we face, and some studies have even demonstrated that solar energy can have considerable negative effects on the environment too.
Negative Environmental Impacts of Solar Energy
Although solar energy has many benefits for the environment, it still has some negative impacts on it, especially when solar energy is used on a larger and more industrial scale.
- Use of Land - Large-scale use of solar panels and solar energy takes up a lot of space. By using up lots of green space to accommodate solar energy, the environment suffers from general degradation and loss of habitats for certain species. This is mostly applicable to solar farms which, when covering a large amount of land, can have a detrimental impact on the local wildlife such as birds and fawn. In addition to impacting wildlife, large solar farms can prevent the growth of vegetation and damage agricultural land.
- Chemical Leakage - As you may have guessed, photovoltaic cells aren’t a naturally-occurring resource which can be grown in a field; the photovoltaic manufacturing process involves the use of toxic chemicals. If a manufacturer does not follow the regulations surrounding their manufacture to the letter, these chemicals can pose health risks to not only the people working around them, but to the environment too. The buck doesn’t stop with the manufacturer. If consumers do not properly dispose of their old solar panels, the toxic chemicals within them can leak into the environment as the units get damaged or break down over time. This can have serious impacts on the environment -- to put this into perspective, solar panels produce far more toxic waste per unit of energy than nuclear power.
- Water Usage - Although solar panels themselves do not use any water when they are installed, the manufacturing process uses a lot of it. As the demand for solar panels rises, so does water usage in places where solar panels are manufactured. This excessive usage can have an impact on local communities who may suffer from the strains being put on their local water reserves and resources.
Other Impacts of Solar Energy
There are not just environmental drawbacks when it comes to solar energy, there are other negative impacts which need to be considered before you decide to invest in solar panels.
- The Cost - The primary consumer disadvantage when it comes to solar panels is the cost to install them. Although some argue that this cost can be offset by the savings on energy bills, the overall cost of installing a panel system is very much dependant on how much energy your home needs and how much sunlight your building is exposed to. Installation costs can start at around $10,000 and run all the way up to $50,000. The cost of installing solar panels is relative and there are many variables to consider, such as the cost of the unit, the cost of having it installed (unless you install the panels yourself) and the cost of maintenance.
- Maintaining Solar Panels - Because solar panels have only recently started to have a widespread use, the maintenance of them is something which can be a bit of a problem for many households. The major problem is cleaning: getting up atop your roof and giving your solar panels a good scrub down. This should be done at least every quarter as dirt builds up on them rather quickly, and the photovoltaic cells cannot capture light effectively if they are caked in dirt. Additionally, any repairs which may need doing on your solar panels have to be carried out by a certified technician which can be costly.
- Energy Storage - Your home will not need to use all the energy generated by solar panels straight away, so you should have some form of energy storage system such as batteries. These systems can be expensive, however, they help to stabilize your solar panel system by ironing out demand and load; if you have an energy storage system you will never have to worry about running out of power.
Before taking the plunge and investing in solar panels for your home, it is important to consider the above disadvantages and weigh these up against your specific needs and the benefits of having a solar powered home. Whether or not solar panels are right for you will depend on a number of individual factors, and there are also the environmental considerations to take into account too.