How does solar power actually affect the environment?

The world is moving towards greener, more sustainable power sources. Everyone is doing it, and that makes us prone to jumping on the bandwagon without knowing exactly how environmentally friendly a certain power solution is.

Affordable Power Solutions is intent on being transparent about all consequences of using solar power, so in this blog post, we take an honest look at how the production and usage thereof impacts the environment.

Manufacturing and energy consumption

During the manufacturing process of solar panels, materials need to be mined and then processed to be suitable for the product. Among these is the mining of quartz that needs to be treated at very high temperatures to form silicone for the panel’s cells. This implies quite large energy requirements to be met.

However, the energy payback time for solar panels is relatively short. In other words, the time it takes for a solar panel to produce more energy than it is required to be manufactured, can justify the energy consumption in the initial stages of production. Think of it like a financial investment that earns your money back within about 3 years.

Recycling

Because solar panels only became popular in recent decades, recycling them is not always the most accessible option. This leads to the constant mining of new materials and might even cause a shortage of materials in the future. While the recycling issue seems concerning, the root of the problem is a shortage of retired solar panels.

The problem is however being solved daily as more and more solar panels that were installed years ago are reaching the end of their lifetime. This makes the possibility for commercial recycling much bigger, and it consistently keeps growing.

The solution

Your first thought when reading about the possible environmental impacts of solar power might be to opt for another solution, but the real solution is for more people to invest in this green energy source. The more solar systems are installed, the less coal will be used to produce additional ones and eventually we will reach an all-time low in the need for mining new resources. Solar power production can soon become a system with almost no external resources needed to complete the cycle, as long as the world continues to invest in solar for a greener future.

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