The Environment Is Not Better Off
We’re all being encouraged to invest in solar energy, and at first glance it sounds like a good idea. Why shouldn’t we make the most of the Sun, and through having solar panels we could even put money in our own pockets, but it’s not the Sun that’s the problem, but the Solar Panels themselves.
A typical solar panel will save over 900kg of CO2 per year that results in a carbon payback period of ~ 1.6 years. As solar panels have an expected life of 25 years, even in areas where the sun’s radiation is received at less than 550kWh per m2 such as the northern UK, a typical solar panel takes around 6 years to pay back its energy cost.
It is expected that this particular 1MW solar farm at Killan Fach Farm, Dunvant will generate clean, renewable electricity for 30 years, and emphasis on the words expected and generate clean energy.
Sounds good so far, but Here’s what they don’t tell you: Solar panels are composed of photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight to electricity. When these panels enter landfills, valuable resources go to waste. And because solar panels contain toxic materials like lead that can leach out as they break down, landfilling also creates new environmental hazards.
The construction of solar facilities on vast areas of land imposes clearing and grading, resulting in soil compaction, alteration of drainage channels and increased erosion. Central tower systems require consuming water for cooling, which is a concern in arid settings, as an increase in water demand may strain available water resources as well as chemical spills from the facilities which may result in the contamination of groundwater or the ground surface.
Currently the recycling of solar panels is rather a big issue because there aren’t enough locations to recycle old solar panels, and there aren’t enough non-operational solar panels to make recycling the panels economically attractive. Recycling of solar panels is important because the materials used to make the panels are rare or precious metals; composed of silver, tellurium, or indium. Due to the limitability of recycling the panels, those recoverable metals may be going to waste which may result in resource scarcity issues in the future.
To know more about renewal energy and not just solar panels, I would recommend watching the Michael Moore documentary – Planet of Humans.
There are comments from Nicola Griffiths of the Development Bank of Wales who said: “Renewable energy schemes like Gower Power Solar Storage have long-term environmental, social and economic benefits for the people of Wales. Indeed, we are able to support renewable energy projects with up to £5 million from the Local Energy Loan Fund as part of our efforts to develop a low-carbon economy in Wales.”
I still remain sceptical and how the governments want to sell renewal energy but not helping the environment at all.