The use of photovoltaic cells as a means of clean andsustainable energy has been gaining popularity in recent years. For many people, they provide hope for reducingreliance on power plants that spew pollution and add to the nuclear waste disposal problem. While there are numerous benefits to using solar panels, there are alsomany downfalls. No matter what proponents would have you believe, photovoltaic panels are not necessarily thewarm and fuzzy solution to the worlds clean energy crisis theyve been made out to be.
The use of photovoltaic technology for practical purposes is still a relatively new concept and is not yet widelyemployed. As a result, the cost of these panels is very high and they may be a struggle for the average earner toafford. However, as they become more popular, the cost of purchasing and installing a photovoltaic system will become more reasonable.
Nothing ever lasts forever. Although photovoltaic panels are meant to last for about 15 to 20 years, they will eventually need to be disposed of. All of that plastic will sit in a landfill and leach into the environment where it can enter the food and water supply and cause healthproblems. Their manufacture and transportation will also cause a significant amount of pollution. On top of that, these panels contain more than 50 known hazardous substances such as mercury, silicon tetrachloride, kerf nanoparticles, cadmium telluride, sulfur hexafluoride, copper indium selenide and copper indium gallium.
Plastics also tend to give off gas toxins into the air whenthey are exposed to prolonged periods of heat, sun and water.
A study done by a group of Italian researchers has revealed that photovoltaic panels will actually end up costing more money to buy and install than you will save over the course of their useful life. The amount of moneythat goes into producing them is an amazing 2.5 times the amount of what generated power would cost haveotherwise cost. This relegates photovoltaic panels to being little more than a money drain.
There seem to be many pollution issues plaguing solarenergy and yet another is the heavy use of batteries. Panelarrays are hooked up to large banks of deep cycle batteries similar to the ones used in cars. These batteries contain many dangerous chemicals such as lead, mercury and lithium. Theyre prone to leakage, present disposal challenges and explosion concerns and produce hydrogengas as a result of their function, not only that but batteries appropriate for use with solar systems are very expensive and require rigorous maintenance.
Although solar power generation in cloudy areas is still feasible, there are other weather and environmental factors that can hinder their efficiency. If air pollution isthick, adequate sunlight will be unable to penetrate it as effectively and reach the panels surface. Hightemperatures, like those experienced in sunny locations, can also lead to decreased power production. Once the solar panels get between 95 and 107 degrees, power efficiency begins to go south.