Solar panels are the leading source of renewable energy for our homes and businesses, with more and more buildings opting to have them installed. Alongside this, we are also seeing an increase in the number of solar farms that are being constructed, all of which means good news for our planet and the environment. However, it is important to understand why solar panels are good for the environment, as well as a few of the issues they may currently produce and how we can fix that.
The Benefits for the Environment
Solar panels have several benefits for the environment due to their green energy and lack of emissions when running.
#1 Cuts down the energy you use from the Grid. Of course, solar power doesn’t work at night, so for those who don’t have solar batteries installed, they still need to be connected to the National Grid if they don’t have enough energy to run the home after dark. However, it is still massively reducing their dependence on the National Grid.
#2 No emissions. As solar energy relies entirely on gathering energy from the sun and converting it into electricity (or hot water) for use in our home, using it means that you are not producing any greenhouse gases or contributing to global warming. It can reduce the carbon footprint of your home by 80% in one year.
#3 It’s renewable. Solar energy is a form of renewable energy. This means that there is plenty of it to go around because it is an energy source that won’t run out (not for another few billion years anyway). Fossil fuels are a finite source of energy, and one that we damage the planet with when we mine and distribute it. By relying on solar panels, you are one less household that is relying on fossil fuels, and it can make a bigger impact than you might think.
#4 They last a long time and require little to no maintenance. The manufacturing process for solar panels is not perfect, something that we will look at further in the next section, but the fact that they last so long and don’t need much maintenance is good news. Conventional heating methods require relatively regular replacement and maintenance, which can cause a lot of environmentally unfriendly waste, as well as increase the need for more units to be made. Solar panels last about 50 years, so you shouldn’t need to replace them for a long time.
The Disadvantages for the Environment
There are a few disadvantages for the environment that come with using solar panels, however. These are important issues to note so that they can be addressed with further research and development.
#1 They can take up a lot of land. Solar farms are incredibly large structures, and ones that take up entire fields. Unlike wind farms, they cannot be shared with agricultural pursuits because they are mounted on the ground. However, it is possible to try and minimise the impact that solar farms have by placing them on brownfield sites, or investing in floating solar panels for reservoirs.
#2 The use of water is a little high. During the manufacturing process for solar PV panels, water is used. This is not a significant amount for concern, however. Instead, the focus shifts to thermal solar panels. Concentrating solar thermal plants require large quantities of water for the cooling systems that have been installed. Unfortunately, many of the areas in the world with the highest potential for solar efficiency also have some of the driest climates, making this a difficult obstacle to overcome.
#3 The manufacturing process isn’t entirely clean. The disappointing part of solar panels is the fact that the manufacturing process does cause some pollution as well as produces hazardous materials. Monocrystalline solar cells produce a lot of silicon waste and use additional energy, while thin film solar cells contain toxic materials that can cause environmental harm. However, most manufacturers are responsible for the safe disposal of this waste, and more companies are following suit.
How We Can Improve Things
The important thing to remember is that solar panels are an excellent and effective way of producing energy for your home that is clean and will massively reduce your carbon footprint. While the manufacturing process and other aspects are not yet perfect, this should not stop you from investing.
Every solar panel purchased helps to drive research and development further, which then leads to the improvement of the product. There are aspects that need fixing, and hopefully, they will be over time. Here are some of the key things that can be improved:
- Better levels of efficiency during the day
- More efficiency solar batteries for evening use
- Further investment in floating solar panels for reservoirs
- A cleaner manufacturing process for a lowered emission rate
- Alternatives to the huge amounts of water used in cooling systems
These things can be achieved with further research and development, so make sure you continue to invest in solar panels, and support the process towards better panels. With the help of the public and consumers, we will have better, more efficient, and more powerful solar energy.
Want to Know More?
Have you found yourself interested in solar panels? If you want to know more then make sure you head to our marketplace where you can find our full range of products, each with the relevant information. Or simply give us a ring using the number at the top of this page and have a chat.