Environmental benefits of solar panels
As mentioned earlier solar panels have been proven to pay for themselves in regards to the carbon and energy used and released during their creation. What is often overlooked is the other positive effects that their existence and continued usage has on the world around us.
The primary benefit to our planet is that they steadily reduce our reliance on mainstream Industrial power generation. When fossil fuels are burned both particulate matter, carbon dioxide (and if the combustion process is inefficient, carbon monoxide) is released into the atmosphere. Many fossil fuel power stations have methods to try and curtail these by-products, but these systems only reduce the resultant emissions marginally.
Although nuclear power generation is often seen as a ‘Green Energy’ many would argue otherwise. Nuclear power generation creates large amounts of highly toxic waste during its operation, which takes an enormous amount of time to degrade to acceptable levels, so as a result the large volumes of radioactive waste have to be stored somewhere safely. Other than the disposal and recycling of the materials contained in solar panels there is no harmful waste produced during their operation.
“PV electricity contributes 96% to 98% less greenhouse gases than electricity generated from 100% coal and 92% to 96% less greenhouse gases than the European electricity mix.”
“Compared with electricity from coal, PV electricity over its lifetime uses 86 to 89% less water, occupies or transforms over 80% less land, presents approximately 95% lower toxicity to humans, contributes 92 to 97% less to acid rain, and 97 to 98% less to marine eutrophication.”
Carol Olson, researcher at the Energy Research Centre in the Netherlands
Earlier this year enough capacity was generated by solar photovoltaic panels across the globe to power over 30 million households. That’s a saving of more than 53 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, proof that the expanding industry is helping combat global warming and helping to reduce our negative effect on our environment.