The only environmental disadvantage of solar technology is that it contains many of the same hazardous materials as electronics. As solar energy becomes an increasingly popular source of energy, the problem of eliminating hazardous waste becomes an additional challenge. Not only is there a direct cost associated with recycling, but panels are delicate and bulky equipment that require specialized labor to take them off and remove them without breaking into pieces. Furthermore, some governments may classify solar panels as hazardous waste due to small amounts of heavy metals (cadmium, lead, etc.), which entails a number of costly restrictions.
Additionally, some solar panels contain harmful pollutants, such as sulfur hexafluoride, which is more potent than carbon dioxide. The process needed to manufacture solar panels can also damage the environment. Mass production of solar panels can cause the burning of fossil fuels and plastic waste. Electricity generation from fossil fuels accounts for 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases.
Approximately 8 years after installation, your solar panel system will have fully paid for itself by providing your home with free electricity. After that, you will start making money simply by doing nothing but having solar panels. Solar cells usually last for decades, between 25 and 30 years on average. If you're not connected to the power grid, you need energy storage devices (the most common is a lithium-ion battery) to store the energy your solar panels produce earlier in the day, so you have power at night.
The name “rare earth metals” is a bit misleading: in reality, these elements abound. However, it is the extraction of these elements for use in wind turbines and solar cells that has a negative impact on the environment and on the human beings who extract them. Fortunately, major technology companies are exploring methods to recycle these rare earth elements in order to maintain a constant supply and prevent costs from inflating due to growing demand. Despite rumors, one of the great advantages of solar panels is that they work anywhere and in any climate on Earth.
On a larger scale, the United States' switch to solar and other renewable energy would allow the country to achieve energy independence. There are also some really good solar chargers for electric vehicles on the Australian market, including the Zappi home charger. While heavy snow can pose a weighty problem for solar panels, light or moderate snow has been shown to slide dirt, grime, and debris off the panels as they melt. The replacement rate of solar panels is faster than expected and given the current high recycling costs there is a real danger that all used panels will go directly to landfills (along with wind turbines).
The positive side of solar energy being renewable means that everyone can take advantage of the free energy provided by the sun. Some states have other performance-based incentives such as solar renewable energy credits (SREC), which have the potential to make you hundreds of dollars a year depending on where you live. The use of solar energy instead of grid energy offsets emissions and carbon footprint of production after four years of use. The initial costs of a solar system represent a significant expense but are generally mitigated by savings on electricity bills.
There is a race to make solar panels affordable while maintaining quality. With this agreement your retail electricity provider agrees to buy excess solar energy from your hands. After this time a solar panel can still produce electricity but may experience a decline in efficiency and energy production. Yes, solar energy has many advantages such as its ability to reduce carbon footprint and reduce pressure on power grid.
Solar energy can help most consumers power their homes as an alternative or supplement to purchasing electricity from grid.