Solar energy as a whole is a renewable resource. It allows us to draw the energy we need without using the same number of fossil fuels. Over time, this can reduce the overall emissions we produce when the energy is consumed. There are, however, some environmental impacts of solar energy which must be considered.
1. It Requires Land Use.
Solar energy collection is still a rather inefficient technology. This means solar farms take up a lot of space if they are going to produce enough energy for thousands of households.
2. It May Contribute to Habitat Loss.
Even if solar panels are installed in desert locations, it disturbs the local habitat for that wildlife. These disruptions can influence the rest of the ecosystem, which may eventually have a negative impact on the communities who benefit from the solar power.
3. It Uses Hazardous Materials in the Manufacturing Process.
Toxic materials are used to create solar panels under current technologies. These materials can then enter local habitats, groundwater systems, or create exposure events in other ways.
4. Emissions Are Still Produced.
Fossil fuels are still necessary in the creation of solar panels. This means solar energy still has an initial emission amount that must be considered before the technology is fully implemented. The impact is lower than the constant burning of fossil fuels, but should not be ignored simply because solar is considered to be a renewable resource.
5. Water Consumption Levels Rise.
Solar panels and other collection methods often require water to cool down the equipment so that appropriate temperature levels are maintained. This increases water demands and can place pressure on local resources. It also means that in times of drought, the solar collection equipment may not be able to be maintained.
6. It Has a Direct Socioeconomic Effect.
Solar energy is still more expensive in most communities on a per kilowatt-hour basis than other forms of energy. Because more money has to go toward power use, this reduces available capital for other expenses.
Solar energy may be a renewable resource and it may have an overall positive effect, but the environmental impacts must also be carefully considered. This way we can maximize the benefits that are received from the sun’s energy.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.