The sun offers a vast number of resources to generate sustainable and clean electricity without global warming emissions and toxic pollution.
The potential environmental effects usually associated with solar panels, such as the usage of hazardous materials during the construction of solar panels, habitat loss, land use, and water use, can vary greatly. This depends on which technology they decide to use.
They have been grouped into two broad categories, concentrating solar plants (CSP) and photovoltaic solar cells (PV).
The system has a scale that ranges from distributed small PV rooftops arrays to the utility-scale large PV as well as the CSP projects, which also play a major role in the level of impact to the environment. Sonnenbatterie is an intelligent storage system that regulates the energy in the house.
1. Land Use
Concerns can be raised about the loss of habitat and the degradation of land, which depends on the location of large-scale utility solar plants.
The total amount of land area required can vary depending on the topography of the land, the varying solar resource intensity, and the technology.
It is estimated that the utility-scale PV systems can range from three to ten acres for each megawatt, while it is estimated that for CSP facilities, it ranges from four to sixteen acres for each megawatt.
Unlike the facilities made for wind, there is much less space for solar plants to share the land together with agricultural uses. However, the effects on the land from utility-scale solar projects can be greatly reduced by establishing them at low-quality locations such as transmission and transportation corridors, abandoned mining land, and brownfields.
Smaller solar PV arrays can easily be built on commercial buildings and homes, which can have a reduced impact on the environment.
The PV cells in solar panels do not generate water using water. Though in all the processes involved in manufacturing, a certain amount of water is used to create the solar PV components.
Concentrating solar plants (CSP), like most thermal solar electric plants, need water for cooling purposes. The use of water often depends on the cooling system type, the location of the plant, and the design of the plant.
The CSP facilities that make use of water for their wet recirculating technologies coupled with cooling towers use about 600 to 640 gallons of water for each megawatt of electricity per hour produced. CSP facilities equipped once through technology for cooling have increased levels for water withdrawal and a decreased amount of consumption of water; this is because it is not lost when it’s in the form of steam.
The dry cooling technology can decrease the amount of water used by CSP plants by almost 90 percent. However, there are tradeoffs for all these water savings, including reduced efficiency and increased costs.
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3. Hazardous Materials
The manufacturing process of PV cells involves a certain amount of hazardous materials. Most of the hazardous materials are used to purify and clean the surface of the semiconductor.
These chemicals are similar to the ones used in the semiconductor industry, and they include acetone, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen fluoride, and trichloroethane.
The type and amount of chemicals usually depend on the amount of cleaning that is required, how big the silicon wafer is, and the cell type. The employees are also exposed to the risks associated with breathing in silicon dust.
This means the manufacturers of PV materials have to obey the United States of America laws that have been enforced to make sure that the workers are not injured after being exposed to the chemicals and make sure that the waste products from manufacturing are properly disposed of.
The PV cells thin films have significantly more toxic materials compared to those that are used in silicon photovoltaic cells, such as cadmium Telluride and gallium arsenide. If they are not disposed of and handled properly, these materials can cause both public and environmental health threats.
4.Global Warming Emissions
There are emissions that are associated with some of the stages of the solar plant’s life cycles, such as dismantling, decommissioning, maintenance, installation, materials, transportation, and manufacturing.
Solar needs a lot of energy to produce. Manufacturing, mining, and transportation all need a significant amount of energy.
Eric Reyes is a passionate thought leader having been featured in 50 distinguished online and offline platforms. His passion and knowledge in Finance and Business made him a sought-after contributor providing valuable insights to his readers. You can find him reading a book and discussing current events in his spare time.