Environmental Impact of Solar Energy

The environmental impact of solar energy depends on the scale of the solar project and what the energy is eventually used for.

Large scale solar energy projects will have a larger effect on the environment, both positively and negatively.

Unlike fossil fuels, solar power emits no carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, therefore using solar energy results in a lower amount of greenhouse gasses being emitted into the atmosphere. One energy technology company estimates that converting the entire US electric grid to solar power would reduce greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere by 40%.

Solar energy systems are also silent, and usually have no loud moving parts so they do not release any sort of disturbing noise pollutions.

Unfortunately, solar energy panels can only absorb light when the sun is shining, so solar systems are often times needed to be very large in order to be efficient. These large systems can use a large amount of space and land, which may have negative impact on the surrounding environment and animal life.  Clearing land to build large scale solar power systems can negatively impact the environment by disturbing ecosystems and removing plant life.

Also, the manufacturing of solar panels can have a negative impact on the environment.  Solar panel manufacturers release green house gases and other pollutants into the atmosphere during the manufacturing and doping process of solar panels.  Transportation of solar panels will also have a negative impact on the environment if fossil fuels are used during transportation.

Every solar panel that is built and successfully used as a substitute for fossil fuels is reducing the amount of pollutants released into the atmosphere. Overall, using solar energy as a substitute for fossil fuels will have a positive impact on the environment.