¿Are solar panels harmful?
In this article we will talk about the problems that can bring if you buy solar panels, are they harmful to people? For the enviroment? Can they generate fires? Despite all that is said, solar panels have many benefits .. Keep reading and you will find out!
The popularity of photovoltaic power is constantly increasing and the increases introduced in electricity can only further increase the demand for domestic photovoltaic power plants. Independence from electricity providers or savings on bills are just some of the many advantages of having your own photovoltaic installation.
Are solar panels harmful? Threats, security and good practices
But what about the safety of photovoltaic energy ? Is it harmful to the environment and how does its operation affect the health of the inhabitants of the home where the panels are installed?
Are solar panels harmful?
The main reasons for the purchase and installation of domestic photovoltaic installations or solar parks that generate electricity for the needs of business operations are financial benefits in the form of lower electricity bills, independence of the electricity supply and the possibility of using the system discount.
So what can prevent some inverters from having their own photovoltaic panels? Concern about whether photovoltaic energy is certainly a safe source of electricity.
Operation of photovoltaic panels and carbon dioxide emissions
The use of coal and lignite to generate energy is not only a solution limited by depleted resources, but also an option that is harmful to both human health and the environment. The same applies to obtaining heat by burning wood. During the combustion of coal and wood, carbon dioxide is released, which greatly affects the warming of the climate.
How does it look in the case of photovoltaics? For the efficient operation of photovoltaic panels, it is not necessary to use fossil fuels, but the appropriate intensity of solar radiation. Therefore, photovoltaic installations do not emit carbon dioxide or other chemical compounds dangerous to the environment, and the electricity obtained from them is called clean electricity .
Harmfulness of photovoltaic cells at the time of their production.
The problem of the safety of photovoltaic energy for the environment and the state of human health appears during its production. For its preparation, toxic and explosive materials such as hydrochloric, nitric or sulfuric acid are used, as well as hydrogen fluoride, acetone and fluorine compounds responsible for the greenhouse effect. In addition, employees in the rooms where the cells are manufactured are exposed to inhalation of silica dust.
Due to the emission of hazardous substances during the production of photovoltaic modules, the panels are considered low-emission devices. However, the amount of chemical compounds emitted into the atmosphere is much less than in the case of burning fossil fuels, and the zero-emission operation of the panels quickly compensates for this.
It is assumed that during the entire life cycle of photovoltaic energy (from its production, through operation and ending with disposal), it will emit approximately 50-60 g CO2 e / kWh during the production of 1 kWh. This is a very satisfactory result compared to obtaining energy from coal fuels , where 1 kWh corresponds even to 1000 CO2 e / kWh.
Use and recycling of photovoltaic panels
Doubts also arise about the harmful impact of photovoltaic farms on the environment in relation to the need to eliminate them. Although currently the useful life of photovoltaic panels is estimated at 25 years, like any device, they are subject to wear and tear.
How is the cell removal process done? During their use, the materials and substances that make up the solar installations are destroyed and neutralized.
One of its forms is combustion . However, it is an unfavorable solution for the natural environment and human health due to the chemical compounds contained in the photovoltaic energy emitted during the process, which penetrate the groundwater and end up in the atmosphere. Harmful elements include lead contained in silicon cells and cadmium present in certain facilities.
Instead of burning PV, we can opt for recycling , which allows the recovery of many materials from used panels and is not as harmful as the first disposal method. Depending on the type of cells, we can distinguish two recovery methods.
The first step in recycling silicon panels is to remove the aluminum frames, wiring, and junction box.
The next step is to divide the recovered parts into glass and aluminum. In this way, it is possible to recover approximately 90-95% of items made of glass and metal, which will be suitable for reuse.
The remaining parts are heat treated (500 degrees Celsius); At this stage, we recover the silicon cells.
Then, depending on their state, they are subjected to chemical processes, thanks to which they recover their energy-generating properties, or they are melted into the so-called wafers used for the production of new panels.
If you have thin film panels, such as with silicone panels, remove the wires and the junction box. The second step to recycle them is to shred the entire structure of the module. Also thanks to this method, we can recover almost 90% of the glass pieces. The final stage in the recycling of thin film panels is the separation of liquid and solid metal through a rotary movement, which, after proper cleaning, can be reused.
Who is responsible for the disposal and recycling of the solar panels? According to the laws of the European Union, its producers should take care of it. However, it looks different in practice. Because photovoltaic energy belongs to the group of hazardous waste (electro-waste), it can be recycled to plants that deal with the disposal of WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment).
Noise generation by photovoltaic energy
Do photovoltaic installations generate noise during their operation ? The photovoltaic panels themselves work silently.
The source of photovoltaic noise is an inverter (inverter). It is in charge of converting direct current into alternating current. The noise level it produces depends on the power of the photovoltaic installation, but the sounds of its operation oscillate around 18-25 dB, which is comparable to a human whisper.
However, if it turns out that we are bothered by the noise generated by the inverter, we can replace it or equip it with a special insulation that suppresses the noise from its operation.
In the case of photovoltaic farms, the noise will be higher, so their inverters are usually placed indoors.
Electromagnetic field of photovoltaic energy
Many investors, before deciding to install photovoltaic installations, wonder if solar farms pose a threat to human health , in particular their electromagnetic field.
Let’s start with the fact that this phenomenon does not occur with photovoltaics. Its cells convert the solar energy obtained directly into electricity, and their work is based on the photovoltaic effect. No intermediary in the form of mechanical energy is needed for the conversion. Therefore, the operation of photovoltaic installations is not dangerous for people .
Electric shock due to photovoltaic installation
Individual modules with an output voltage of 30-60V are not particularly dangerous, while several connected panels are already a source of high voltage, even up to 1000V DC, posing a great threat to the people who install or maintain the installation. .
Fires resulting from the presence of a photovoltaic system on the roof of buildings are very rare.
In countries where this solution is used the longest and most intensively, such as Germany, photovoltaic fires account for 0.006% and in the Netherlands 0.014% of all reports.
The risk of fire is mainly due to the poor quality of the modules, their improper installation and, above all, the use of unsuitable cables and their incorrect installation .
Fighting fires caused by solar panels is very difficult. This is because disconnecting the cells from the grid is not enough, because the photovoltaic system generates electricity as long as it has access to solar radiation.
Fires in photovoltaic installations can also be caused by lightning. To avoid the risk of its occurrence, it is good to equip the installation with surge arresters or additional lightning protection systems.
How to avoid the risks associated with the possession of photovoltaic energy?
Due to the growing interest in solar panels, there are many companies in the market that offer photovoltaic installations, and at the same time they do not have the appropriate qualifications and experience in the installation of photovoltaic installations.
The choice of the manufacturer largely determines the efficiency and performance of the photovoltaic modules, as well as the safety of their operation resulting from the correct installation and protection of the panels on the roof of buildings or on the ground.
Solar panels as a safe solution for the environment and human health
The purchase and installation of panels on the roof of a home or the installation of photovoltaic farms for the needs of business operations is not only a series of financial benefits, for example, in the form of savings on electricity bills, but also in obtaining energy in a way that is not harmful to the environment or human health.
- During operation, the photovoltaic does not produce carbon dioxide,
- does not generate unpleasant noises,
- And there is no electromagnetic field phenomenon during its operation.
Potential threats from photovoltaic farms are the result of improper installation or use, or poor technical condition.
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