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Solar panels bad for environment?

Furthermore, it turns out that the time it takes to offset the energy used and the greenhouse gases emitted  during the production  of solar cells and panels varies substantially with the technology used and the geography.

Solar panels bad for environment?

That’s the bad new. The good news is that the industry  could eliminate many of the harmful  side effects that exist. In fact, the pressure for it to do so has been growing, in part because since 2008 the manufacture of panels and cells has moved from Europe, Japan and the United States to China, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan; today about half of these are made in China.

Yet while the industry’s global track record is good, the countries that today produce the most panels and cells typically do the worst job of  protecting the environment  and plant workers.

Do solar panels pollute?

Solar panels bad for environment?

Global warming

The burning of fossil fuels such as coal or oil to generate electricity releases tons of CO2 into the environment, which contributes to climate change.

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Global warming has consequences that put humanity at risk, since it causes natural disasters such as tornadoes, floods or earthquakes; it affects the climate, water and food supplies. It even causes damage to health or emerging diseases related to changes in ecosystems.

Renewable energy

Renewable energies do not emit greenhouse gases in the generation of energy, so they represent a clean solution that avoids environmental degradation and does not affect climate change. Generating electricity through solar energy is better for the environment than burning fossil fuels, although this does not mean that the solar energy industry does not pollute.

So… do solar panels pollute?

The manufacture of solar panels implies harmful emissions to the environment and health by extracting raw materials such as steel, silicon, copper and aluminum. Even so, when solar energy is used, there is no direct pollution of the solar panels.

If I don’t want to pollute, should I install solar panels? 

During the useful life of solar panels, they provide a lot of energy that helps counteract their harmful effects.

The energy used to manufacture and install a panel, and therefore everything that is contaminated during this process, is recovered in about 3 years with the clean energy generated by the panels.

Good news for the planet! Solar panels are recyclable!

If we think that a panel has an approximate useful life of 25 years, we are already 22 years in favor of pollution from using a solar panel. Solar power is clearly a better alternative to power plants burning fossil fuels. In addition, solar panels can be almost completely recycled: currently the best technologies on the market allow 98% of their weight to be recovered, thanks to the fact that they are made of glass and aluminum; items that are easily reusable and are not hazardous to health.

The change to renewable energy is a process that takes time and that over the years will be able to solve problems to become a solution to our energy needs that has fewer and fewer harmful effects on the planet and our health. The important thing is that we support renewable energy to promote research and the development of better technology.

We have to accept the reality of climate change and adopt a way of life that leads us to stop and reverse the destruction it causes. So now you know, installing solar panels does not pollute!

Solar panels are not as green as they seem?

Solar panels have become an icon of environmental protection , since it is better to generate electricity through photovoltaics than by burning fossil fuels. However, although they are the best option, solar panels are not exempt from pollution. In fact, the manufacture of solar panels leaves a trail of chemical contamination . In addition, the time it takes to offset the energy used and the greenhouse gases emitted in production vary greatly depending on the technology used and the geography.

However, the solar energy industry could easily modify many of the harmful side effects that exist. Thus, the pressure to eliminate these effects is growing notably, since for more than a decade the manufacture of photovoltaic energy has moved from Europe, the United States and Japan to countries such as the Philippines, China or Malaysia. However, currently more than half of the world’s photovoltaic energy is manufactured in China.

Main panel problems

To understand what the problems with panels are and how they can be addressed, it is essential to know how they are made. Thus, although solar energy can be manufactured using various technologies, the vast majority of solar cells use quartz, the most common form of silica. Here is the first problem, since quartz is extracted from mines. This puts the miners in danger as they could suffer from silicosis, a lung disease .

Subsequently, refining converts the quartz into metallurgical-grade silicon , a substance used especially to harden steel. This is done in giant furnaces and requires a lot of energy, although the carbon dioxide and sulfur emissions do not cause much harm to the people who work in the refineries or to the environment. 

However, in the next step, converting silicon to polysilicon creates a highly toxic compound called silicon tetrachloride. Currently, between three and four tons of silicon tetrachloride are created for every ton of polysilicon, which has a huge environmental impact.

The vast majority of manufacturers recycle this waste to produce more polysilicon, as this saves them money. However, some companies dispose of this leftover product. If it comes into contact with water, silicon tetrachloride releases hydrochloric acid, causing soil acidification and emitting harmful fumes.

Likewise, water is also a major problem. Photovoltaic companies use it for many purposes such as cooling or air pollution control. However, the greatest waste of water occurs during installation and use.

How can we help

Although it is difficult to change manufacturers’ decisions, consumers can pressure companies to improve their environmental records. Therefore, if you are thinking of installing solar panels, you should ask the installers about the companies that manufacture the products they use. This, at the same time, will induce installers to request more information from the manufacturers themselves.

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