What Is the Environmental Impact of Solar Energy?

| 12/2/2015 8:55:53 AM

Tags: solar power, home energy, Vikram Aggarwal, Massachusetts,

Environmental impact of solar energy

Solar energy is a win-win: in addition to its significant financial benefits, going solar is also great for the environment. When your solar panels generate electricity, they produce zero emissions, which means they don’t contribute to climate change or health issues like more traditional sources of energy. They also draw their energy from the sun, an abundant resource that will be available and accessible across the world for the foreseeable future. All that said, what you may not realize is that there is actually an environmental impact of solar energy too.

Solar panels produce zero emissions once installed on your roof, which means their environmental impact is negligible for most of their life. However, solar panels aren’t zero-emissions resources for their entire lifetime – as they have to be manufactured in a factory first, as well as recycled at the end of their useful life. These two processes are where solar actually has an environmental impact.

Many researchers frame the environmental impact of solar energy with the concept of energy payback time, or EPBT. The EPBT tells us how long it will take for solar panels to produce enough clean electricity to “pay back” the energy that was used to produce them. This calculation varies depending on a few different factors, including:

1. The productivity of your solar panels. If you live in an area that has lots of sunlight, and your solar panels are very efficient, then your system will generate more electricity and have a shorter EPBT.

2. How your solar panels are produced. Some solar panels require more energy to produce than others. For example, thin-film modules have a smaller footprint than silicon modules, because less energy is needed to manufacture them.

12/4/2015 2:17:45 PM

This is not an unbiased article, the author has a web site that sells solar products. Also the social and environmental costs of resource extraction are totally missing. Also to be able to post this I had to register with an email address, only after they had my email did I find out that I had to give my name address etc. I am totally disillusioned with this magazine. Eat one vegan meal a day and do the environment thousands of times more good than going solar

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