Why are solar panels good for the environment?
There is growing concern about the environment, particularly about the damage and harm we are doing to it in our search for new energy resources. Yes, we all need energy to survive, but that doesn’t mean we should ruthlessly exploit every available resource and ignore the consequences. We all probably consume more energy than we need, so we should cut back and use less. However, that doesn’t seem to be in our nature. We simply bury our heads in the sand and carry on consuming as if the Earth’s resources are unlimited. Unfortunately they’re not. One day we’ll have used all our coal, oil and gas resources, and when this happens we’ll be in deep trouble. Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem: it’s called renewable energy. With technologies like PV, wind turbines and geothermal power, we are now in a position to produce sustainable and environmentally-friendly energy without harming our fragile planet.
How do solar panels work?
Solar panels are made up of many small photovoltaic cells. Each cell is made primarily of silicon in two layers. The layer exposed to sunlight has an excess of electrons and the second layer a deficit. When sunlight strikes the photovoltaic cell, the excess electrons are knocked loose and move toward the layer that is short on electrons. There the electrons are forced into a wire, creating an electric current. Solar panels typically convert about 14 percent of the sunlight that strikes them into electricity. All of this occurs without the use of any moving parts, which makes solar panels very reliable.
Why is solar cell-generated energy so good for the environment?
Fewer Carbon Emissions
Solar panels produce energy only by converting light to electricity, so nothing is burned. Atherefore produces none of the carbon dioxide emissions that are believed to be the major cause of global warming. Burning coal is currently the largest source of electric power on the planet, yet it’s also the greatest source of carbon dioxide emissions. Anytime a new installation goes into operation, it can reduce the amount of coal that will be burned.
Carbon dioxide is not the only pollutant produced when coal or other fossil fuels are burned to make electricity. Two other major pollutants are sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Both have adverse effects on air quality. Nuclear power may be cleaner than burning fossil fuels, but it does produce toxic and hazardous waste that has to be disposed of. Solar panels on the other hand are a clean source of energy; there may be a small amount of hazardous waste produced in the manufacturing process, but this is miniscule compared to the nuclear power industry. The more homes and businesses that install solar panels, the fewer pollutants will be released into the atmosphere.
Despite all the bad press fossil fuels have received, they are still a valuable resource and are essential as raw materials for the production of chemicals, plastics and other products we deem to be essential to modern living. Unfortunately fossil fuels are not a renewable resource. Once a ton of coal or barrel of oil is burned, it’s gone – never to be replaced. Using solar panels to produce energy helps to conserve these resources both for our own use and for that of future generations.
The impact of a solar panel installation on the environment is minimal. In most cases, solar panels are set up using existing structures such as rooftops. It’s not necessary to cut down trees or drain wetlands. You do not need to divert precious water resources or build new energy-hungry power plants. Solar panel energy leaves no carbon footprint and draws its power from the most renewable source of energy available to us – the sun.
Solar panels provide clean, renewable energy for buildings, roadside signs and communications satellites. They capture sunlight and convert it to heat or electricity. Arranged in banks to produce power ranging from a few watts to many megawatts, PV solar panels consume no fuel and produce no emissions. Already a familiar sight on many homes and offices, solar panels are in strong demand and will continue to be an important part of the renewable green energy scene. They don’t harm the environment and can ultimately help us to preserve the Earth’s few remaining resources.