The sun is a perpetual source for generating sustainable and clean electricity without greenhouse gas emissions and environmental pollutants.
The potential environmental impacts associated with the use of solar energy such as habitat loss and land use, water use, as well as the use of toxic manufacturing materials, can significantly vary depending on the type of technology.
The technology relevant to solar power is categorized into two: concentrated solar power (CSP) and photovoltaic solar cells (PV). Some of the environmental impacts associated with production and use of solar energy include;
1. Land Use
Larger solar facilities can result in habitat loss and land degradation. However, these concerns can be minimized by encouraging businesses to utilize lower-quality locations such as abandoned mining sites and brownfields for their solar projects.
2. Water Use
Concentrated solar power (CSP) requires water for cooling. The amount of water needed depends on the plant’s location, design, as well as the cooling system the solar power system has.
3. Hazardous Materials
The process of manufacturing PV cells involves the use of hazardous materials which are mostly used to clean the surface of the semiconductor. These hazardous chemicals are similar to the ones used in the generic semiconductor industries such as sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen fluoride, nitric acid, acetone, and 1,1,1-trichloroethane.