The sun is a fantastic resource for producing green electricity that doesn’t contribute to Global Warming or harmful pollution. Depending on the technology, which falls into one of two broad categories: photovoltaic (PV) solar cells or concentrating solar thermal plants, the potential environmental effects of solar power—land use and habitat loss, water use, and the use of hazardous materials in manufacturing—can vary significantly (CSP).
The size of the system—from modest, dispersed rooftop PV arrays to massive utility-scale PV and CSP projects—also has a big impact on how much of an impact it has on the environment.
Use for Land
Larger utility-scale solar installations may cause issues about habitat loss and land degradation depending on their location. Depending on the technology, the topography of the site, and the strength of the solar resource, different amounts of land may be needed. According to estimates, CSP facilities require between 4 and 16.5 acres per megawatt, whereas utility-scale PV systems require between 3.5 and 10 acres.
There is less opportunity for solar projects to share land with agricultural purposes than there is for wind installations. Utility-scale solar systems’ effects on the environment can be reduced, nevertheless, by placing them in less desirable areas like brownfields, defunct mines, or current transmission and traffic lines. Smaller solar PV arrays, which can be installed on residential or commercial structures, also have little of an influence on land use.
Solar photovoltaic cells don’t need water to make power. Solar PV component manufacturing does, however, involve some water use, as does any manufacturing. For every megawatt-hour of power produced, wet recirculating CSP facilities with cooling towers draw between 600 and 650 gallons of water. The amount of water withdrawn from CSP facilities using once-through cooling technology is higher, but the overall amount of water used is lower (because water is not lost as steam). At CSP facilities, dry-cooling technology can save water use by almost 90%. Higher expenses and lesser efficiency are the costs and trade-offs associated with this water reductions. Additionally, at temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, dry-cooling technology performs noticeably worse.
The majority of the hazardous substances utilized in the PV cell production process are used to clean and purify the semiconductor surface. These substances, which are identical to those utilized in the overall semiconductor business, include acetone, hydrogen fluoride, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, and 1,1,1-trichloroethane. The kind of cell, the degree of cleaning required, and the size of the silicon wafer all influence the quantity and kind of chemicals employed. Risks related to breathing silicon dust while working exist as well. In order to prevent worker exposure to toxic chemicals and to guarantee that manufacturing waste is disposed of appropriately, PV manufacturers must abide by U.S. rules. Compared to conventional silicon photovoltaic cells, thin-film PV cells use a number of more hazardous substances, such as gallium arsenide, copper-indium-gallium-diselenide, and cadmium-telluride. To ensure that these extremely precious and frequently uncommon materials are recycled rather than thrown away, producers have a strong financial incentive to do so.
While using Solar Energy to produce electricity does not contribute to global warming, other phases of the solar life cycle, such as manufacturing, transporting materials, installing, maintaining, and decommissioning and dismantling, do. The majority of estimates for solar systems’ life-cycle emissions range from 0.07 to 0.18 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour. So we can say that these are impacting the global environment positively.
This blog is all about Solar energy and the impacts that it has on the environment like relief from Global Warming etc.