Is Solar Power Good For The Environment?

The most believable lies are the ones with the most truth” – anonymous

There is a considerable amount of information available regarding ‘hazardous materials’ involved in the production of solar panels. And for the record, it’s no joke. Some of the chemicals involved are certainly less than friendly to a human body or to the environment as a whole.

But for the sake of fairness, take a moment and ponder what kinds of hazardous materials are involved in the production of plastic milk jugs… medicine containers… or even tooth brushes. Your average solar panel will see considerably more use than any of these things.

Beyond any doubt, solar power is absolutely good for the environment, as it converts free and endless sunshine into electricity that we can use to power our lives – and it does so without any harmful side-effects.

Yes, when it comes to panel production there is room for improvement. And as responsible members of this planet, we should always work fervently to do things in a wholesome constructive way. But before you believe the lie, ask yourself, when was the last time I read an article damning medicine because of a manufacturing process?

The Argument

For sake of understanding, let us consider the two opposing processes of producing power.

(The following scenarios are greatly simplified.)

  • Solar Panels – The very first step is the location and acquisition of certain materials. These materials are then refined and transformed into a usable state, after which solar panels are manufactured.

These completed panels are then transported to a location where they are installed and begin to produce power. On the average, solar panels will perform their duty for 25 to 30 years.

  • Fossil Fuels – Much like solar panels, certain materials must be located and acquired. Afterwards, there is a refining process, where the finished fuel is then transported to location for use.

However, unlike solar panels, fossil fuels are burned one time and then gone forever. After which, the process must be repeated… over… and over again.

(This is great if you are selling the fuel, but less so if you spending $$ to acquire it.)

Even if fossil fuels did not produce the harmful pollutants that we know they do, solar panels would still come out ahead – with regards to environmental impact – as their manufacturing process does not require continuous decades of input.

Simply put, when you manufacture a solar panel it will perform for decades. When you mine/manufacture a fossil fuel and you’ll use it once… and then have to do it all over again.

Location, Location, Location

An often overlooked benefit to solar power is the fact that it can be produced on-site. The size and scalability of solar panels, allows them to be installed almost anywhere; including roofs and even backyards.

This means that the transportation factor – one that produces its own pollutants – is considerably smaller than that of fossil fuels.

For example, you will never see giant tanker ships filled with solar panels making regular trips back and forth across an ocean. Nor will you see countless train cars or tanker trucks, congesting traffic as they travel their never-ending routes.

Much like the above mentioned manufacturing process, once solar power is installed on location, it performs without any additional input – something fossil fuels can not lay claim to.

Conclusion

As you may have noted, I have not made any reference to CO2 or Global Warming in this article. This was intentional.

Why?

Because I think there is more than enough evidence to prove the advantages of solar power without it.

There are plenty of ardent fans of both solar power and fossil fuel – generally entrenched in their own opinion.

However, I have found that if you can step away from the situation and view it from a different angle, then the environmental argument that is so hotly debated, becomes almost irrelevant.

Even when you take Global Warming out of the equation, fossil fuels still don’t measure up to solar power.

Fossil fuels have a continuous element to them where solar power can/has performed for decades. How can anyone logically compare the environmental impact of something that burns in an instant, and thereby must be replaced, to something that performs for 25 to 30 years?!