The standard assumption by most consumers is that solar panels along with wind technology is that they are green and make a positive contribution to the reduction of pollution around the world. But, are solar panels really green? While the technology has been around for years, it is only recently that solar panels have been produced in large numbers and also touted as a green technology that will change the way that electricity is generated. Reductions in coal based generated electricity will put many people out of work and will also reduce the amount of pollution. This is the argument of most environmentalists. What are the facts and will this trend really help us in the long run?
Are Solar Panels Really Green?
The jury is actually still out on this question, Are Solar Panels Really Green, believe it or not. This is still a relatively new industry and many improvements need to be made before we can definitely say that there will be reductions in pollution based on solar panels. Here are a few examples.
Coal Fired Electrical Generation Plants – Switching to solar panels will reduce the amount of electricity needed from these plants, therefore reducing the amount of coal burned and the amount of local pollution which is a good thing from an environmental perspective. Switching to natural gas will also reduce pollution.
Solar Panel Farms – They take up a large area and nothing else can be done with the land they occupy. Much more space is required for solar panels than traditional power plants. These panels need to be washed at least once per year which wastes a lot of water. And water is becoming a short supply issue for many areas.
Manufacturing Solar Panels – They are predominantly manufactured in China which has very lax standards in terms of control of toxic chemicals used in the process. It takes a great deal of energy to make a solar panel and the toxic waste is not disposed of properly. While there is less pollution in the predominantly western nations where solar panels are being installed, China and other countries are having to deal with significant levels of pollution in their countries.
Recycling – Not enough solar panels are being recycled as of yet so there is no business that has yet developed to deal with the toxic chemicals in solar panels. They are ending up in land fill sites.
A lot more work in this industry is needed before we can truly say that solar panels are a green technology.