According to the United States Energy Information Administration, solar energy systems do not produce air pollution, water pollution or greenhouse gases. The administration states, “Using solar energy can have a positive, indirect effect on the environment when solar energy replaces or reduces the use of other energy sources that have larger effects on the environment.”
In considering the impact of manufacturing, there are a number of factors to keep in mind. In the area of water consumption, it’s important to note that Photovoltaic (PV) solar cells technology does not use water in electrical generation. (Large-scale concentrating solar thermal plants, called CSPs, do consume water.)
When it comes to hazardous materials, it’s important to note that they are used during the PV cell manufacturing process, but toxic materials are associated with every type of energy generation. Also, because the materials used in solar panel manufacturing are high-value, manufacturers have a built-in incentive to recycle them.
And while energy is certainly used to create solar panels, it’s estimated that the initial investment in energy is redeemed by 30 years of environmentally friendly energy generation. It’s worth noting that, in a side-by-side comparison, fossil fuel-generated power produces greenhouse gas emissions throughout its life cycle, while solar does not. In addition, solar energy produces significantly less carbon dioxide equivalent than natural gas and dramatically less than coal. So if you’re looking for an energy choice that makes good sense for the environment in just about every way possible, solar is right for you.
Consider solar power
If you’d like to know more about solar power for your home, contact your local solar installer for a free quote and to learn more about which type of solar installation is right for you.
Download the infographic, From Silica to Solar Power, to find out more on the global effort it takes for solar panels to end up on your rooftop.
Download our eBook, Solar Supply Chain, to learn more about how solar energy is an effective engine for the creation of new jobs.