Issue: Environmental Impacts of Solar Power

Solar Secrets
Issues

Issue: Environmental Impacts of Solar Power

No energy technology is without trade-offs, technical limitations and environmental impacts. And solar power is no different, despite of what you may have heard.

Yes, sunshine is free. But manufacturing, transporting, installing and maintaining the equipment necessary to harness the Sun's power and put that energy to practical everyday use is far from free, though that big-picture perspective isn’t something you’ll get from industry advocates. They would prefer that you think of solar power in a one-dimensional way.

Solar power panels don’t just appear by magic. The materials and chemicals of which they consist, and the industrial means used to pull these elements together and make them work, can’t be forgotten when we look at the environmental impacts of Big Sun. Large-scale solar power production can't be done on residential rooftops, but requires construction of giant complexes, sprawling across the landscape, not to mention the transmission towers and corridors needed to deliver that power to market. That sasquatch-sized "footprint" also isn't something you'll hear a lot about from solar cheerleaders.

Seeing sun power whole, and putting it in proper context, requires that we take a closer and deeper look, from the mining of rough materials to the disposal of past-their-prime solar panels. Only by taking this holistic view can we fairly compare one energy technology with another. Solar Secrets will help visitors understand that allegedly- "clean" and - "green" energy technologies also have environmental consequences, so they can make educated comparisons between energy options.