Solar energy can be used for heating or to convert sunlight directly into electricity with photovoltaic technology which is now commonly used everywhere to produce electricity in developed and remote areas.
There are different reasons why people go solar, one of the major reasons is the environmental benefits of solar energy.
Solar energy produces clean, renewable, and emission-free electricity for your homes and doesn’t lead to any production of harmful substances that can affect the environment. Whereas some electricity is produced by fossil fuel burning like coal which emits harmful gasses.
Everyone has the right to live in a healthy environment, just as the food we eat or water we drink has an impact on us, the state of our environment does too.
This article will let you know some of the environmental benefits of solar energy and why you should invest in this natural source of energy.
Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy
- The emission of Greenhouse Gases is Reduced
- Air Pollution is Reduced
- Water Usage is Less
- Help to Fight Against Climate Change
- Reduces Carbon Footprint
- Independent of Non-Renewable Sources of Energy
- Does Not Support Environmental Degradation
- Solar Materials can be Recycled
- Reduces the Risk of Oil Spill
- Improve Global Health
1. Emission of Greenhouse Gases is Reduced
Greenhouse gases such as CO2 , Methane, NO2 which are produced when fossil fuels are burned lead to rising global temperatures.
Due to the increase in the carbon-dioxide content of air, the temperature of the atmosphere increases gradually. This causes discomfort to humans
Electricity generated from solar energy as a clean source of sunlight can reduce the demand for fossil fuels and limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Since carbon dioxide accumulation gradually causes the global rise in temperature, converting to solar means your contribution to global warming is limited.
2. Air Pollution is Reduced
The surrounding in which we live is constituted of the air we breathe. If the air we breathe is being polluted it is a serious threat to the very existence of human life on the earth.
The primary air pollutants are Carbon monoxide (CO), Particulate matter (solid & liquid aerosols suspended in
the atmosphere), Sulfur dioxide (SO2), Hydrocarbons (HC), and Nitrogen oxide (NOx).
One of the biggest benefits of solar energy is that it results in very few air pollutants and can significantly reduce these pollutants.
3. Water Usage is Less
The risk of running out of water in the future is scary as it is one of the most precious natural resources we rely on.
Generating electricity traditionally can use thousands of liters of water each year as it is regularly used for cooling generators, processing and refining fuel and transporting fuel through pipes.
Electricity produced through solar energy uses no water at all neither does it use lubricants as it doesn’t possess any moving parts. The only water needed is in terms of maintenance in cleaning the panel when it gets dirty from debris which can be done when it rains.
The cooling systems of solar panels make use of air cooling methods rather than relying on pumps connected directly to rivers or lakes.
According to a study from the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, on average, 38L of water is required to extract natural gas to produce 1000 kWh of electricity while a coal-fired power plant consumes 530 Liters of water to produce the same amount of power.
4. Help to Fight Against Climate Change
When a critical and lasting change in weather trends over a long period of time, or long periods it is known as climate change.
The release of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel reliance has led to global warming. Thereby making a change to the earth’s atmosphere and temperature resulting in weather events, such as flooding, cyclones, storms, extreme heat, and drought.
Generating electricity from solar panels produces no greenhouse gasses whatsoever, and so can help to reduce the effect of climate change if used wisely.
5. Reduces Carbon Footprint
Carbon footprint is a term that represents the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) released into the atmosphere. Using solar energy also means you reduce the need for carbon dioxide-emitting energy to be produced.
On average, over sixteen times the amount of CO2 emissions is contributed by coal, while the amount of CO2 emissions from natural gas is seven times compared to solar energy.
The carbon footprint of solar panels is almost zero, so you can generate your own electricity from sunlight, and also reduce your home’s energy costs in the process.
6. Independent of Non-Renewable Sources of Energy
Solar energy is a renewable source of energy, which means it can naturally regenerate itself or replenish through natural processes and can be used over and over again with minimum environmental impact. It doesn’t depend on non-renewable energy which may be completely used or economically depleted such as fossil fuel.
Since it is been replenished by nature it is said to emit little or no greenhouse gas or pollution which is good for our climate and health.
7. Does Not Support Environmental Degradation
Installation of solar panels can be done simply on existing buildings and homes where there is exposure to available sunlight, it doesn’t require additional infrastructure or building by digging up the ground or removing any trees or other vegetation around your home.
However if solar panel installation requires a new building it would lead to environmental degradation as there will be a high rate of usage which will lead to a low replacement rate of the natural environment( vegetation, trees, organisms)
Power supplies are also supplied to remote areas without damaging infrastructure or the environment.
Researchers are studying how to minimize land degradation by placing solar farms in lower-quality locations, such as abandoned mining land, brownfields, or existing transportation and transmission corridors. Cities like California are planning to place solar panels over canals to promote renewable energy, conserve water, and manage lands more sustainably.
Environmental degradation starts whenever the highest use rate exceeds the natural replacement rate.
8. Solar Materials can be Recycled
Solar panels are made from a variety of materials, including silicon and silver. These materials can be recycled which implies actually breaking an item down and making it into something new. Recycling means resource savings in processing.
Examples are solar cells which are made up of semiconductors and other parts, the solar panel recycling companies send them to be reprocessed into new solar cells for use in new products like electronic devices or building insulation.
Silicon tetrachloride is also a harmful byproduct produced from polysilicon used for creating solar panels. If not disposed of properly, silicon tetrachloride can cause soil acidification and emit harmful fumes.
Luckily, silicon tetrachloride can be recycled back into polysilicon, reducing the amount of leftover waste.
9. Reduces the Risk of Oil Spill
Solar energy contributes to safeguarding our marine environment such as beaches, oceans, and coastal regions.
Oil spills are a major environmental hazard, causing serious damage to coastal communities and marine ecosystems. Long-term damage to species and their habitats, nesting or breeding grounds, reducing reproduction rate as eggs can be damaged by oil and fail to develop properly.
This is one of the most far-reaching environmental effects caused by oil spills. By reducing our dependence on oil we should go solar.
10. Improve Global Health
when it comes to improving your health very small actions can make a big difference
Low-qualified air caused by greenhouse gasses from fossil fuels is harmful to the body and may lead to life-threatening conditions in the long run such as respiratory problems but solar energy is a zero-emission energy source that does not produce pollutants.
The amount of greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants released into the atmosphere decreases. As a result, air quality improves, allowing us to breathe cleaner and healthier air which isn’t detrimental to our health.
The most important action we can take to address climate change’s impact on health is replacing fossil fuels with green power as an energy source. Pollutants that cause disease should be reduced too according to Gina Mccarthy Administrator Environmental Protection Agency.
Negative Benefits of Solar Energy on the Environment
- Alteration in Land Use
- Chemicals Produced
- Loss of Habitat
- Noise Intrusion
1. Alteration in Land Use
Solar power facilities are being built on land which can take up to 3.5 – 16.5 acres per MW of power generated. The clearing and use of large areas of land for extraction, exploration, manufacturing, and disposal of solar panels affect native vegetation and wildlife.
It would be too difficult or even impossible for the land to return to its earlier state as the energy footprint increases.
Choosing locations of low-value and wastelands such as brownfields, disused or unusable mines, and along transportation and transmission corridors or canal can help reduce land alteration.
2. Chemicals Produced
Hazardous chemicals are produced in the production process of silicon material used for solar panels.
These chemicals may or may not be disposed of properly depending on the manufacturer or country of origin of the solar panel. Not every company will dump chemicals, or won’t recycle their byproducts properly though there are manufacturing companies leading by example rather than cutting corners to save trash.
However, the unintended waste or byproducts of solar energy is something that must be dealt with.
A solution to aid the economics of recycling is to put a fee on solar panel manufacturers to ease the recycling process and a mandatory recycling program should be implemented.
3. Loss of Habitat
Land kept for the purpose of solar energy systems means that the wildlife and vegetation can get destroyed due to the higher levels of noise pollution affecting the flora and fauna of habitat during the installation of large solar power plants.
The toxic chemicals used in the manufacture of solar panels may lead to the degradation of water resources and land, which in turn have an adverse influence on the existing wildlife. Heat might destroy some live species in the land leading to a less productive land.
4. Noise Intrusion
During operation, solar cells do not make a noise but during the construction phase, there will be a little noise as usual in other construction activities. All these pose a great threat to the environment.
Experts say noise pollution affects breeding cycles and rearing and even the extinction of some species can be Interfered with due to noise pollution.
For instance, species that reproduce by depending on mating calls are often unable to hear these calls due to excessive noise, as a result, there will be a decline in population as they are unable to reproduce.
Others require sound waves to locate and find their way when migrating. With the high noise rate, they do not migrate when they should because of the disturbance of their sound signals.
1. What are other Benefits of Solar Energy?
- Saves Electricity Bills
Converting to solar can mean saving electricity bills for the long term.
- Improves Home Value
Going solar increases the home value as home buyers will likely pay more for a house with solar panels installed.
- Low Cost of Maintenance
Since there is no moving part that wears off the cost of maintenance will be low. Cleaning can easily be done by rainfall or evaporation.
- Long life span
Most solar systems have a lifespan of 25-30 years, which means you won’t have to worry about your electricity for several decades. they have the ability to withstand even the harshest weather conditions.
2. Factors to Consider Before Installing Solar Panel?
Cost of solar, Roof exposure, Availability of sunlight, Home energy usage, weather condition of the area.
3. Do solar panels work in the rain?
Solar panels will continue to work in the rain, but the electricity generated may not be as high as on sunny days. Solar panels can still produce at about 10-20% of maximum output if it’s raining.
The environment is more than just a place to live in. It is important to take steps into helping the environment today, by reducing greenhouse emissions, air, water and noise pollution, climate change, loss of habitat, and land degradation.
If you are looking for to do something good for the environment and future generation, adopting solar energy can be a great choice as you make a great impact on the environment, as solar is one of the easiest and most accessible forms of renewable energy
Why not go solar now and contribute positively to the environment?
I hope this article was insightful, do well to leave a comment below.