As we all know, energy is very important in our lives. It helps us to cook our food, to heat our homes, to power our businesses and to run our vehicles. It is a necessary part of modern life. But where does this energy come from? Many people think that solar energy is a clean and renewable source of energy that does not cause pollution. However, is this really the case? Let’s take a closer look at does solar energy cause pollution.
Impacts of use of solar energy
Solar panels are made up of several different materials, including glass, metal, and plastic. The production of these materials requires a significant amount of energy from fossil fuels, which releases harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In addition, solar panels contain toxic chemicals like cadmium and lead. If these chemicals are not disposed of properly, they can leach into the ground and contaminate our water supply.
Solar power also has an impact on wildlife. Large solar farms can cover vast tracts of land, displacing plants and animals. The reflective surface of solar panels can also confuse birds and cause them to crash into the panels. In addition, the manufacturing process for solar panels creates harmful air pollution that can contribute to respiratory problems in humans.
Components of solar energy
Most of the time when people talk about solar energy, they are talking about photovoltaic (PV) cells. These are the cells that you typically see on rooftops or in fields that are used to generate electricity from the sun’s rays. PV cells do not use any water or create any emissions when they are generating electricity. So far so good, right? But what about the manufacturing process of PV cells? Unfortunately, this is where solar energy can cause pollution.
The main pollutant emitted during the manufacturing of PV cells is silicon tetrachloride (SiCl4). This gas is a by-product of making monocrystalline silicon, which is used in most PV cells. SiCl4 is very harmful to both human health and the environment. Short-term exposure to SiCl4 can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, while long-term exposure can lead to liver damage and cancer.
In addition to SiCl4, other pollutants emitted during the manufacturing process include hydrofluoric acid (HF), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3). HF is a highly corrosive acid that can damage respiratory organs, while SF6 and NF3 are potent greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
So while PV cells themselves do not produce any emissions or pollute the environment, the manufacturing process unfortunately can cause pollution. However, there are steps being taken by manufacturers to reduce emissions and minimize pollution during the production of PV cells.
Solar energy definitely has its advantages as a renewable and clean source of electricity. However, we need to be aware that the manufacturing process of PV cells can cause pollution. Thankfully, there are measures being taken by manufacturers to reduce emissions and help protect both human health and the environment