Solar is a very sustainable energy supply technology and is among the world’s cleanest forms of power but is it still reliable?
Plans for developing utility scale farms have raised concerns about the production technology for solar modules and land use. Analyses of water use by Sandia National Laboratories indicate that the capability to meet our future water and energy demands (and to, in turn, support continued economic development) will require improved utilisation and management of both energy and water resources.
The production of solar panels have negative environmental impacts as production requires high energy consumption, emits water waste and some hazardous by-products are released into the amosphere. Solar photovoltaic panels may also contain hazardous materials that could be released when a panel is damaged or disposed of improperly.
Taking the negative impacts of solar module manufacturing into consideration and comparing it with the overall enviromental impact of power production through solar energy, it becomes clear solar as a power source is still much more ecologically beneficial than coal and natural gas, which have themselves been big contributors to climate change.
The positive effects displace the few negative impacts of the solar panel production phase. With assumed life expectancies of 30 years, PV systems generate energy that is free of pollution, greenhouse gases, and doesn't contribute to the depletion of resources. According to National Geographic, solar energy has the potential to dramatically change the way the world gets its power. For example, enough solar energy falls on a 100-square-mile area of the south-western United States to power the entire nation and same is the case with most of regions in other parts of world including India and Africa.
Solar farms offer incredible benefits, but do have some environmental impact. Improving recycling ability and technology of solar panels will contribute significantly in overcoming the negative environment impacts.