As technology is growing and climate change is posing a danger to the environment, nations are looking for alternate ways of energy in comparison to fossil fuels.
One of the most efficient and cleanest alternatives is without a doubt solar, but just like any other thing in the universe, there are Disadvantages of Solar Energy alongside its benefits. So, here we have the top Disadvantages of Solar Energy to the environment.
What is solar energy?
Solar energy, just as the name suggests, is derived from the sun. There are photovoltaic panels and cells termed solar technology that can catch the energy from the sun and convert it for our use. Therefore, simply putting solar panels on rooftops provides us with free electricity.
This might look perfect till you have to tackle the cost of everything, including solar panels, wiring, inverter, and framing. Not to mention, it takes space and has chemicals involved in its making that harm the environment. Therefore, we are going to discuss the Disadvantages of Solar Energy one by one.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
Solar energy is free because it comes from the sun, but there is surely a cost to storing, collecting, and converting the energy from the sun. This means, that you will have to spend a lot upfront to install solar and make it workable.
If solar was easily accessible, then everyone would shift towards solar energy, but that is not the case here. Amongst the Disadvantages of Solar Energy, the cost is undoubtedly a factor including the cost of installation, batteries, wiring, panels, inverters, and framing.
As more and more inflation is taking place, solar prices are skyrocketing, making it hard to consider. On average, the cost can be around 15k to 20k dollars. Still, it is dependent on the location you are using it for, alongside the taxation imposed by the government, its inverters, and batteries.
During the production of photovoltaic cells, harmful chemicals and materials are used to cleanse the semiconductor surfaces. These chemicals consist of nitric acid, acetone, sulfuric acid, methyl chloroform, hydrochloric acid, and hydrogen fluoride. Unfortunately, this is a significant drawback of solar energy as it poses a threat to the environment.
The chemicals used in manufacturing semiconductor sheets depend on the facility available at the time and the amount used. Inhaling hazardous gases and silicon dust is a danger.
The process of creating photovoltaic (PV) cells involves the use of silicon dust, a typical semiconductor material. However, with advancements in technology, the newer and stronger PV cells pose a greater danger to the environment. This is because they are made up of highly toxic chemicals such as copper indium gallium selenide, cadmium telluride, and gallium arsenide, which are some of the most hazardous substances used in the manufacturing process. It is important to be aware of these risks and take necessary precautions to minimize their impact on the environment.
There are government guidelines for the safe disposal of chemicals, but sometimes they pose risks to workers, the environment, and health.
Lots of land usage
It is primarily dependent on the amount of energy you want to produce from solar, but the more energy you need, the larger space panels will take. For home usage, the panels can be placed on the roof, but for the industrial sector or places where they want to have more energy separate land space is used.
Unlike wind energy where you can have irrigation and wildlife alongside the windmill, solar panels require space free of irrigation and animals. The land should be completely free and made specifically for the use of solar panels to work properly.
For one megawatt of energy, you will require around 3 to 10 acres of land, which will make the land not usable for wildlife, irrigation, and construction. CSP, on the other hand, requires around 4 to 17 acres of land for each megawatt production.
Amongst all the Disadvantages of Solar Energy, the biggest one is its dependency on weather, clouds, and the environment. The solar panels need to be placed at a location where the weather doesn’t get worse, the clouds are not moving around covering the sun, and no buildings higher around to cover the solar.
You can’t control the conditions of the environment like weather, climate, cloud formation, and so on. In bad weather, like rainy days or days in which clouds will cover the sun, your solar power will completely become useless.
Another important thing is that the higher latitude there is, the less energy solar produces. You will have to set the solar panels at a lower latitude for them to provide enough energy for regular use.
Another thing here is seasonal change. Most of the countries where solar is being used have various seasons, and with each season, the climate changes. In the summer season, the energy from solar will be more in comparison to the winter season.
Lastly, you can’t capture solar energy at night because there is no sun. There is a moon at night, and the solar panels work on the sunlight, which is another dependency.
Harm to water resources
It might sound like solar energy and water energy don’t have to do anything with each other, but the cooling system, maintenance, and manufacturing of solar systems do require water in large amounts. Therefore, it is one of the Disadvantages of Solar Energy.
The concentrating solar thermal plants known as CSP, require water and have a large quantity going to waste because of it. With the advancement in technology, the consumption of water in the industrial or manufacturing sector is regularly kept in check, but the introduction of cleaning devices for robotics made it impossible to control the consumption of water.
Nearly every plant associated with thermal electricity requires coolant in the form of water. While the quantity being used depends upon the model, the location, and the design. The CSP utilizes around 600 gallons of water on each 1-megawatt hour of electricity they produce.
Demand of energy
Making solar requires a lot of energy, as the process of mining materials for making photovoltaics, manufacturing, and transportation are all included. One of the main materials is quartz, which is mined, then processed, and used with other components like copper, aluminium, and so on to make only one module for solar.
The most demanding part is quartz heating, which requires high temperatures to do so. Then, panels are made by combining heated quartz with other materials and require a lot of energy, usually provided by fuels.
Even so, solar itself is not associated with greenhouse or climate change; the energy demand for making them is high and provided by the process that usually results in environmental damage. Ranging from mining to heating and manufacturing, everything will pose a danger to the environment
Pollution of water, soil, and air
When solar energy is considered for large-scale use, the area becomes filled with soil erosion, the path of the drainage channel is changed, the soil is compressed, and the land is completely cleared of anything available there. These Disadvantages of Solar Energy pose a danger to soil pollution.
Nevertheless, all the waste from manufacturing to installation is dumped mostly into the water body. Most of the time it is not even correctly done, resulting in environmental damage, especially water, resulting in water pollution.
Regarding air pollution, it is mainly because of construction activities. At the time of large-scale solar installation, some particles lead to water resources and air contamination. Furthermore, the pathogens in the soul also pose a danger to the air, resulting in air pollution.
What is the worst downside of solar energy?
The worst thing about solar is that it is not efficient and depends on particular situations. Depending on the weather, the climate, and the amount of sunlight on the solar, things can pretty much turn upside down. It is also not 24-hour, requiring you to purchase large expensive batteries to store solar energy and use it for night time.
Are solar dangerous for the environment?
Not exactly! Solar energy itself is the safest form of energy we can utilize. Still, the issue starts with the manufacturing of photovoltaic materials that are required to capture solar energy and make it usable. Furthermore, besides the harmful chemicals used in the manufacturing process, its installation also poses a danger to the environment.
There are countless benefits of Solar Energy, but there are also drawbacks associated with its manufacturing. Most of these things are not taken into consideration as people only look at the outcome and the benefits they get in return. In this article, we compiled a list of the top Disadvantages of Solar Energy that pose a danger to the environment.
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