Are Solar Panels Really Sustainable?
Solar is among the leading contenders for sustainable sources of energy. But, are solar panels really sustainable?
Yes, solar panels are sustainable. Solar panels are made from silicon, metal, and glass. Silica which is used to make silicon is the most abundant mineral in the crust of the earth. Glass and metal are also extremely abundant. However, there is a question mark over the processes to create the panels as well as what happens to them after they stop working in 20 years time.
Sustainability refers to the capacity to produce currently while still maintaining the same production capability for the future. But we really need to also focus on how clean the process is.
Solar panels are durable. Once installed, solar panels can produce power for up to 30 years. Many solar manufacturers offer a 30-year warranty on their solar panels.
The durability of solar panels makes them sustainable. Depending on the manufacturer of the solar panels, your solar panels reduce their efficiency by 20% in about 10-15 years. In 25-30 years, the efficiency of the solar panels reduces until you need to replace them.
In addition, to their durability, solar panels have few maintenance needs. Compared to other sources of power and energy, you may need regular maintenance and replacements. Regular replacement and maintenance may impact the environment adversely.
Have A Never-Ending Source Of Energy
Solar panels produce electricity from the sun. Unlike oil, the sun will never end. Even when it sets, it will rise the following day and the solar panels will continue producing electricity to power your home.
On cold and cloudy days, solar panels may not produce power as effectively as when the sun is shining. To solve this problem, you can buy a solar battery system. It stores any excess energy produced by your solar panels.
The ability to store excess power makes a solar panel system sustainable.
Reduce Carbon Footprint
Unlike other sources of power, solar panels produce little to no emissions. This makes solar panels the most sustainable and cleanest source of energy.
By using solar panels for your home, your home doesn’t use power produced by polluting the environment such as electricity. Thus, it reduces your carbon footprint in the environment and also helps to reduce the amount of carbon in the environment.
Unlike other sources of power, solar does not use oil that contaminates the environment. Oil spills in the ocean and on land are regular occurrences in our day. Oil spills in the waters take a long time to clean up. During this time, they pollute the water and kill the life in the water.
Solar panels are sustainable in the sense that they will not contaminate land or water. They are set on roofs and rain falls on them regularly over their lifespan. The rainwater that drains from the solar panels is considered contaminated.
Solar panels are made from materials that won’t contaminate the environment or water. This makes solar panels a sustainable source of energy.
Return On Investment
Purchasing solar panels for your home is an investment. When assessing whether to invest, you calculate the return on investment. For most solar panels, the return on investment is about 5-7 years.
How long it takes to recoup your investment in solar depends on your electricity usage. The higher your power bills, the more savings you make by investing in solar panels. Thus, the faster your return on investment.
Once you have recouped your investment, you get to enjoy free electricity for the lifespan of the solar panels. Thus, making solar panels a sustainable free source of electricity.
Reduce Reliance On The Grid Electricity
Many households, businesses, and industries rely on the grid for all their electricity needs. The higher the number of those reliant on the grid, the more oil it needs, and the higher the environmental pollution it causes.
By installing solar panels in your household, you reduce reliance on the grid. When more people install solar panels, the electricity grid doesn’t need to use as much oil to supply electricity. Thus, solar panels help to make you energy-independent while also helping reduce pollution from the grid.
Save On Water
Water is an essential commodity in everyday life. It serves many uses for both the world, humans, and animals.
A lot of water is used in the production of electricity and other sources of power such as nuclear energy.
The water used in energy production is not recycled. Most of it is lost in the energy production process and cannot be reused.
With solar, you don’t need water. All you need is a few hours of the sun shining directly onto the solar panels. It will provide enough electricity to power your home as effectively as electricity.
Slows Climate Change
Increased carbon emissions in a lot of human activities cause climate change. Any activity that takes place without emissions is good for the environment. It is sustainable and more of it is required.
Solar panels and the production of electricity by solar panels don’t produce carbon emissions. This makes solar panels sustainable as their continued use helps in preserving our environment
More and more activities that help to slow down climate change are taking place all over the world every day.
How Can You Make Solar Panels More Sustainable
Make Them Last Longer
One way to make solar panels more sustainable is by extending their lifetime. As mentioned, solar panels last for up to 20-30 years. In the first ten years, solar panels work at 100% effectiveness. In the last ten years, solar panels have lost over 80% of their effectiveness.
Solar panel manufacturers can make their panels last longer. The more their life is extended, the longer they will operate effectively. Consequently, the more sustainable they become.
Longer-lasting solar panels mean that they are rarely replaced and, that they maintain their effectiveness for longer.
Finding proper disposal of out-of-use solar panels will make solar panels more sustainable. It is not unlikely to find waste solar panels in landfills. Does improper disposal maintain the sustainability of solar panels?
Solar manufacturers should find a more sustainable way to dispose of solar panels. One effective way is by prolonging the life of solar panels. When solar panels have longer lives, users will not need to dispose of solar panels as often as they do now.
Additionally, solar panel manufacturers should find a way to repossess the out-of-use solar panels for safer disposal.
How They Are Manufactured
Solar panels are manufactured with rare earth minerals. To get the rare earth minerals, for the solar panels, they need to be mined. Mining rare earth minerals is an environmentally degrading process that is used to create solar panels that are sustainable and friendly to the environment.
To make solar panels more sustainable, manufacturers need to find alternative raw materials.
One reason why solar panels are sustainable is that they require no maintenance over their lifetime.
When solar panels get spoilt, they are not easily repaired. You have to replace the panels with new ones.
This makes the solar panels unsustainable as you have to dispose of the spoilt panel instead of having it repaired.
When solar panels are repairable, they will be more sustainable energy solutions.
One aspect of solar panels that makes them unsustainable is their upfront cost. Solar panels are expensive to purchase which prevents their adoption by more people around the world. In Australia, the federal and state governments offer price discounts for the installation of solar panels.
As solar production technology develops, solar panel production may get cheaper. As a result, solar panels will become cheaper. Cheaper solar panels will increase adoption. Cheaper solar panels will also be more sustainable than expensive solar panels.
There are many solar panel manufacturers in the market. Before you choose a solar panel for your home, carry out extensive research. Find out the best solar panels in the market. Talk to as many people who have installed solar in their homes before you install yours.
Additionally, talk to at least three solar installers before you decide on the solar panels you want to install. Find out how the solar panels in the market differ and their effectiveness. Also, ensure that you know how much the solar panels cost and the most cost-effective brand of solar panels you can buy.
When we use sustainable energy, we use energy sources that will not run out as we use them. We use renewable energy sources that will be available today and in the future. Most sources of energy such as oil are finite and are likely to end at a certain point in the future hence the need to use sustainable energy.
Sustainable energy is also used to protect the environment. Most sources of current sources of energy have high emission levels. These destroy the environment the longer they are produced and used.
Solar power is not as highly adopted as other sources of energy. First, solar panels are expensive to purchase and install. It costs thousands of dollars to purchase and have solar installed in your home.
Additionally, your home must be located in a place where the roof can receive sunshine unobstructed. If your roof is shaded, you cannot install solar panels on it. You will have to find a place in your compound without shade to fix the solar panels and then connect them to your home.
In places with little sunshine, it may not be worth it to install solar panels as they will produce insufficient power.
Solar panels last for about 25-30 years. There are some manufacturers that offer a 30-year warranty on their solar panels. You can expect these solar panels to last longer than the warranty period.
Over this period, your solar panels will serve you efficiently. Depending on the manufacturer, solar panels lose 20% of their effectiveness in 10 years. However, they will last for another 20 years until you need to replace them.
Once installed, solar panels require little maintenance or repair over their lifetime. You may never have to call your installer to your home to check on your solar panels for their lifetime.
Their durability, versatility, and little need for repair make solar panels sustainable energy sources.
If you have the required skills, tools, and time you can easily DIY a solar panel installation project. However, having a pro install the panels for you is the best method. Solar panel installation is an electrical project that needs expertise and high safety levels.
Homegardenguides.com is a free tool that connects you to solar installation pros fast and easy.
Enter your zip code at the top of the tool. Then, fill out the subsequent form to provide more information on your solar installation project.
You will then receive quotes from at least three solar installation pros. Go through the quotes and advice offered by the pros. Then, choose one of them to complete your solar installation project.
Author: Ben McInerney is a renewable energy enthusiast with the goal of helping more Australians understand solar systems to make the best choice before they purchase. Having an accredited solar installer in the family helps give Ben access to the correct information, which allows him to break it down and make it easily understandable to the average homeowner.