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How Do Solar Panels Help the Environment

May 25, 2022

Solar energy has great environmental benefits, apart from the significant financial benefits. Unlike other traditional sources of energy, solar panels do not produce any emissions when generating electricity, meaning they do not affect human health and the environment. Solar panels also derive their energy from the sun, which is an accessible and available source even in the future. This blog will help you understand the most common environmental impacts of solar energy.

What Is a Solar Panel?

The sun is the primary source of solar energy. PV/solar panels transform light from the sun into electricity that can be useful in powering electrical loads. Today, various applications use solar panels for power. For example, electricity production for commercial and residential solar electric systems, remote sensing, telecommunications equipment, and remote power systems for cabins.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

The sun provides solar panels with clean, renewable energy in sunlight form. Solar panels then convert the sunlight into electricity used for electrical applications. Pvs consist of single cells with different layers, including boron, which gives the positive charge, and phosphorus and silicon which gives the negative charge.

The process through which solar panels attract energy from the sun and turn it into electricity is called the photovoltaic effect. When PVS suck up photons from sunlight, they ignite an electric current. When the energy derived from photons strikes the solar panel’s surface, it enables electrons to be derived from their atomic orbits and discharged into the electric field produced by the solar cells, which draw the free electrons in a direct current.

The Efficiency of Solar Panels

Solar panels are very efficient, although they tend to be more efficient on sunny days. But that does not mean that solar panels need the sun to work; they can also work efficiently even during winter on cloudy days. Scientists have even found that PVs are more suitable in cooler areas since they can overheat in hot areas.

The efficiency rating of a normal commercial module is approximately 16-20%. The solar panel industry aims to improve the module frequency and maintain a low cost per cell. Various factors are likely to affect your solar system’s frequency. Below are some of the major factors that can affect solar panel frequency

  • Roof suitability — Before installing your solar panels, it is essential to ensure your roof is strong enough to hold the solar system weight. You should also consider if your roof is large enough to hold a solar panel system. Although most materials used to build roofs are appropriate to hold solar panels, wooden roofs are considered brittle.

  • Direction, angle, location — While installing solar panels, it is essential to ensure that they are angled and located to capture maximum sunlight. Evaluating the suitability of your roof is an important part of dictating the system’s efficiency. The angle of your roof determines the sunlight exposure of your panels.

  • Maintenance — Proper solar panel maintenance is crucial if you want to increase the lifespan of your solar system. Luckily, solar panels require little to no maintenance. However, that does not mean that you should not get your solar panels checked frequently by a professional service provider or an installer.

  • Size of the solar panel system — There are different sizes and shapes of solar cells. Bigger solar panels tend to generate more electricity compared to smaller-sized panels. You can calculate your electricity needs to have a rough idea of the size of the panel you need in your home.

Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy

Below are some of the most common environmental benefits of installing solar panels

  • Reduces water pollution — Unlike most manufacturing processes, photovoltaic cells found in solar systems do not require water to produce electricity. This is one of the major benefits of solar panels. Compared to traditional biomass plants and geothermal power plants, solar energy is the most recommended as it minimizes the pollution of local water resources.

  • Reduces air pollution — The production of conventional energy sources like oil, natural gas, and coal involves combustion and mining of fossil fuels, which causes emissions like methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide, increasing air pollution. These emissions cause climate change as well as respiratory health risks. Since solar panels produce electricity without burning fossil fuels, they are an effective means of reducing air pollution.

  • Reduces hazardous waste — Since solar energy is renewable, it does not release pollutants like carbon dioxide into the air like coal-fired plants that produce a lot of toxic waste into the environment. Additionally, these hazardous wastes are dumped in landfills, mines, and other places that pollute the environment and pose a risk to human health.

  • Reduces non-renewable resources — Solar energy is commonly known for its clean and renewable form. With the sun as the world’s significant source of energy, it can produce almost 170,000 Watts per second. According to scientists, the sun can power the entire world for one year if we can capture all the energy from the sun for one hour. Solar panels are also an accessible and easier way to attract energy without causing any environmental damage.

  • Lessens climate change — If you are considering reducing carbon footprint and climate change, consider installing a solar panel system. According to research, 34% of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S accumulated from the electric power sector. Installing solar panels in your home will save the environment today and in the future

  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions— An average house consumes less than 14,000 watt-hours every year. The number can easily be reduced by 80-100% by using a modestly-sized solar panel system, and even at this level, solar would still have a substantial impact on the environment.

  • Add an electric vehicle — While driving an electric car, you only visit the gas station a few times. This means that your car will have zero emissions of the harmful C02. However, it is essential to note that if you charge your EV car from non-solar energy, you will be lowering energy expenses from the gas station and increasing your monthly utility bill. But if you use a well-designed solar system, it will power your car and home efficiently and reduce your utility and gas station bills.

  • Reduces strain on finite resources — Environmental pollution has been rising for decades, and the earth has a limited amount of natural gas, coal, and oil to give up. The amount of energy produced every second by the sun, which is renewable and a primary energy source, is 10,000 times more than the world’s combined energy use. On the other hand, fuels and fossils are non-renewable and will not always be readily available as the sun. The best and only way to curb dwindling resources is by going solar.

  • Makes the air safe for everyone to breathe — There have been close to 6.1 million cases of childhood asthma and other respiratory conditions in the U.S. Due to the pollution caused by fossil fuels, there are days declared as “smog days' ' where residents are forced to stay in their houses and avoid breathing the outdoor air. This is why most people want to change to solar since solar energy does not affect our air.

  • Minimizes land use — There have been concerns about habitat loss and land degradation with large utility-scale facilities. On estimate, solar systems take 3 to 10 acres of land for every megawatt. On the other hand, CSP requires 4 to 17 acres of land for every megawatt. Note that solar systems can be installed in lower-quality locations to minimize land impacts. These low-quality locations include transmission corridors, existing transportation areas, abandoned mining sites, and brownfields. Even the solar systems installed at home or commercial facilities have minimal impact on the land.

  • Reduces water usage — Water is one of the most critical natural resources we can’t live without, so it is important to conserve it since it can never be enough to cater to everyone’s needs. Fossils and fuels take up large water quantities during power generation. The whole process of transporting fuel, processing, refraining, and even cooling down the generators requires a lot of water.

Since water is scarce, and not everyone has access to fresh water, it makes sense why we should avoid using water to generate power. Generating power using solar requires no water hence lowering the usage and pressure of water. The solar panel system only requires water during installation for washing the panels, and most installers use rainwater to clean the panels.

  • Reduce the use of fossil fuels — Fossil fuels were used in the past for power generation since they were affordable and accessible. But as their usage increased, they began having a negative impact on the environment. Although switching from fuels and fossils to a better alternative that has a positive effect on the environment, like solar panels, is not easy, having solar installed in your home, even for partial needs, can significantly impact the environment

  • Helps improve human health — The harmful emissions from fossils and fuels can have a negative impact on a person’s health in the long run. Whether it is respiratory diseases, the emissions pose a significant risk to humanity’s health. According to the US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, we could save more than 25,000 lives if we all use solar.

Can Solar Panels Reduce Global Warming?

Global warming is the drastic increase in the earth’s temperature, commonly associated with the greenhouse effect created by high levels of pollutants like chlorofluorocarbons and carbon dioxide. The greenhouse emissions have caused more damage from significant air pollution, rising sea levels, and extreme weather conditions. The greenhouse gasses emissions that cause climate drastic climate change mainly result in

  • Heat waves that can cause deat

  • Strong, intense, and frequent hurricane

  • An increase in the rain could result in floodin

  • Spread of diseases like Zika virus and mosquito-borne malari

  • An increase in global food prices can lead to economic threats and povert

  • Rising temperatures can affect food suppl

  • Severe drought

  • Acidic oceans pose a risk to ecosystems and marine lif

  • Rising sea levels that can cause loss of livable lan

  • Shifting of wildlif

  • Melting glaciers can cause a lack of fresh drinking wate

Using solar energy can help reduce global warming since solar is clean and reusable, and it uses radiation from the sun, which is an unlimited source of fuel. Using agricultural, commercial, and residential solar helps offset carbon emissions, and it also saves you a lot on energy expenses. Although not all homes or commercial properties are suitable for solar, there are ways that everyone can pitch in and create a safe and clean environment that will last a lifetime.

How to Determine Solar’s Environmental Impact

The most significant and common impact of solar systems on the environment is that they produce zero emissions after they are installed. However, to calculate the impact, researchers use the concept of EPBT (energy payback time) to determine the environmental impact of solar panels. This concept calculates the environmental impact of the solar system using the theory of how much time it will take to give enough electricity to pay back the energy used in installing them. Below are some of the factors that can affect this calculation

  • The productivity of your solar system — If your house is located in an area where there is a lot of sunlight and your panels work well, you will have a shorter EPBT since the system will produce a lot of electricity

  • The production of your solar panels requires more energy to produce and has a longer EPT than others

  • The location where the solar panels are made — If your solar panel was manufactured in a different country, if they were transported across other countries, it would increase the EPBT since they would require more energy.

Find a Solar Panel Installation Expert Near Me

If you are considering switching to solar power to save the environment, Sun Solar Electric is here to help you. We aim at making this process easier for you at an affordable rate. Call us today at 707-658-2157 for professional and exceptional services i the Bay Area and Northern California.

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