Solar panels are becoming more and more popular for residential and commercial buildings across the UK.
However, before deciding to install them at residential properties, we are often asked whether they are good for the environment.
The answer is yes, they are good for the environment. But how and why are they so environmentally friendly? Keep reading to discover the answer.
Why are solar panels good for the environment?
Solar energy can reduce the carbon footprint of homes by up to 80% in one year.
As they convert sunlight into energy through the process of photovoltaics, the production of energy doesn’t involve the combustion of fossil fuels. This means that no greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide or methane, are released when electricity is being generated.
The environmental benefits of solar panels
Thanks to the use of clean and sustainable energy for producing electricity, there are many benefits for the environment.
Clean energy production
As mentioned above, the process of generating energy is clean because it doesn’t require fossil fuel combustion and, therefore, doesn’t produce greenhouse gases.
The fact that solar panels generate electricity on-site also reduces the need for power plants that rely on fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, oil). These power plants are major sources of CO2 emissions, so by installing solar panels at your home, you are indirectly reducing carbon emissions, as you will be decreasing the demand for electricity generated from fossil fuels.
Solar energy is renewable, meaning there is plenty to go around, and it won’t run out. By installing solar panels at home, you would be moving away from the use of limited resources that are generating greenhouse gas emissions from the mining and distribution of them.
Solar panels provide an opportunity for homes, businesses, and even entire regions to become more self-sufficient and independent in terms of energy. This reduces reliance on fossil fuels, further limiting carbon emissions associated with their extraction, transportation, and burning.
Distributed solar generation, where many individual solar installations are connected to the grid, reduces the need for long-distance electricity transmission. This reduces energy losses and the carbon emissions associated with electricity transmission.
Offsetting carbon emissions
Some solar panel owners produce more electricity than they consume, allowing them to feed excess power back into the grid. In many cases, this surplus energy can be used to offset the carbon emissions of others using conventional power sources.
Environmental lifecycle benefits
While there is an energy and emissions cost associated with manufacturing, transporting, and installing solar panels, this is typically recouped within a few years of operation. Solar panels have a long operational life (20-25 years or more) and continue to produce electricity with minimal emissions. Thanks to the fact that the panels will last a long time, the production of solar panels is low as there won’t be the need for manufacturing the materials and products as often.
The disadvantages of solar panels on the environment
While solar panels have many advantages for the environment, there are a few negatives that should be discussed.
The production of solar panels involves the use of energy and raw materials, which can result in greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. The manufacturing process can vary, but some solar panel production methods may generate emissions.
The manufacturing of energy storage solutions, such as batteries, also has its own environmental impacts, but they are an important part of a solar panel system if you are looking to become independent from the National grid. This is because the batteries will store excess energy produced in sunny periods which can be used in darker periods.
Solar panels have a finite lifespan (typically 20-25 years), and their disposal or recycling can pose environmental challenges. Proper disposal and recycling processes are crucial to prevent the release of hazardous materials into the environment. However, the disposal of solar panels is not a frequent discussion, meaning that they can be disposed of incorrectly, which can have a harmful impact on the environment.
Solar panels and their components are often manufactured in one location and transported to another for installation. The emissions associated with transportation can offset some of the environmental benefits.
It’s important to note that while solar panels have these potential disadvantages, many of them can be mitigated or minimized through improved technology, sustainable manufacturing practices and responsible disposal and recycling. Additionally, the environmental benefits of solar panels, including reduced greenhouse gas emissions and decreased reliance on fossil fuels, often outweigh these disadvantages, especially in the long term.
Install solar panels at your home
Despite the few disadvantages, the many benefits of solar panels are believed to be worth it, especially in the long run.
Solar Service Solutions are a trusted company for installing solar PV panels, solar thermal panels, solar batteries, heat pumps and many more accessories to make your system efficient and work for you.
Learn more about our solar panel solutions by calling our expert team on 0330 021 8672 or sending us a message. We love helping homeowners make their energy use eco-friendly and are always willing to discuss your requirements.
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