There are hazardous chemicals used to make photovoltaic (PV) cells and panels that must be handled with care to avoid emission to the environment. Some types of photovoltaic cell technologies use heavy metals, and these types of photovoltaic cells and panels may require special management when they reach the end of their useful life. Some solar thermal energy systems use potentially hazardous fluids to transfer heat, and leaks from these materials could be harmful to the environment. Environmental laws regulate the use and disposal of hazardous materials.
The Department of Energy supports several efforts to address end-of-life issues related to solar energy technologies, including the recovery and recycling of materials used to make photovoltaic cells and panels. Several states have enacted laws that encourage the recycling of photovoltaic panels. As we mentioned before, the installation of a solar power plant requires a large area of land, which is completely clear, causing soil erosion. In addition, improper disposal of chemicals used during manufacturing can result in water, air and soil pollution.
The manufacture, installation and transportation of solar panels also contribute to a significant amount of carbon emissions. Fortunately, your energy demand is usually higher during the day, so you can meet most of it with solar energy. We've discussed all the ways in which solar panels can be harmful to the environment, but let's not forget that they're still a much better option than non-renewable energy alternatives. Unlike wind installations, solar projects have fewer opportunities to share land for agricultural uses.
However, there are government guidelines that solar energy companies must follow to ensure the proper management and disposal of these chemicals. Thanks to the subsidies available for solar panels, as well as to the increasingly competitive prices on the market, solar energy has become the main source of energy for more and more families. While solar panels are an environmentally friendly energy solution, the materials and manufacturing process used to create them have a decent-sized carbon footprint, requiring mining, fusion and cooling for their use. .
In addition, the solar energy manufacturing process involves the use of more toxic chemicals, which can negatively affect our ecosystem. It is important to note that the amount of carbon emissions produced to create solar panels is not yet close to that of traditional energy installations, and is quite small compared to oil extraction, hydraulic fracturing or coal extraction. Solar panel installations also require a lot of energy to stay operational and, unfortunately, much of the energy used to melt silicon comes from burning coal, especially in China, where pollution emissions are already high. In most cases, it's smarter to use solar energy during the day and draw energy from the grid during the night (you can only do this if your system is connected to the grid).
However, with the increase in the use of solar energy and the numerous advantages of solar energy, we still need to consider production, installation and the end of its useful life; therefore, is solar energy really sustainable? Are solar panels green? Second, solar panels are composed of precious heavy metals made of silver, indium or tellurium, as well as rare raw materials. To be honest, it's hard to say exactly how big the carbon footprint is at every stage of manufacturing a solar panel, no matter the type. It is a complex process and therefore produces the highest emissions compared to any other method of manufacturing solar panels. .