Fossil fuels, like coal and gas, have been the backbone of our electricity supply for decades. Despite the environmental harm they cause, the owners of coal mines and gas plants have claimed that there are no viable alternatives or that such alternatives are too costly to implement. However, with advances in technology and a growing emphasis on sustainability, renewable sources like solar power are vastly more competitive and practical – only a huge disinformation campaign has been waged by the oil and gas lobby against them.
The first argument they make is that solar is too expensive. This argument is patently invalid as the cost of solar continues to drop. In fact, solar is now one of the most cost-effective forms of energy available. Solar power prices have plummeted 10 times faster than was projected just 15 years ago.
This is due to advances in technology, increased production, and economies of scale. As the demand for solar energy has grown, so has the competition in the industry, which has driven prices down even further. In many areas, solar energy is now cheaper than traditional sources of electricity like coal and gas, and the cost is expected to continue to decrease in the coming years. So, the argument that solar is too expensive simply does not hold up anymore.
They also say that solar power creates pollutants. This is also untrue. While it is true that the manufacturing process for solar panels requires energy to smelt the aluminum and glass, mathmatically the total pollution-to-megawatt generated by solar is 95% less than coal power.
The important thing to consider is that the long-term benefits of solar power vastly outweigh any negatives. Solar power produces zero emissions during operation and can help to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Coal, on the other hand, constantly emits pollutants and particles in the air. Additionally, solar panels have a lifespan of as much as 50 years and can be recycled at the end of their life cycle, further reducing environmental impact.
It is also important to note that there are no toxic pollutants or waste products produced by solar power, unlike traditional fossil fuels which release toxins such as mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides.
Reports have suggested that some solar panels contain small amounts of potentially hazardous chemicals, such as lead and cadmium, these are only found in research panels and all modern solar panels have eliminated the use of such materials. In fact, solar power is one of the safest and cleanest sources of energy available, making it a crucial part of our sustainable energy future.
One argument against solar power is that it takes up valuable land that could be used for farming. But that’s also not true anymore, because innovations in solar technology have allowed for the installation of solar panels on land that is unsuitable for farming or other uses, such as rooftops, deserts, and even bodies of water. In fact, a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that the US has the potential to generate more than 3,000 times the amount of electricity it consumes each year using solar power alone, without using any land that is currently being used for agriculture or other purposes.
But also the US has a surplus of agricultural land – so much so that 40 percent of all the corn we grow is converted into ethanol for fuel. When we have such an abundance of land, it’s hard to argue that we can’t afford to use some of it for the greater good of transitioning to cleaner, more sustainable energy sources like solar power.
Also, solar panels can be installed with ground screws that don’t require any concrete. The use of solar panels with ground screws instead of concrete means that farmland can actually benefit from solar panel installation. The panels provide shade and reduce soil erosion, while allowing the land to regenerate nitrogen and nutrients from rain and air. And if the land needs to be used for farming again, the panels can be easily removed and the soil can be restored to its previous use. This not only shows the compatibility of solar with agriculture, but also how solar can actually enhance and benefit the land.
This means that solar panels can also be uninstalled rather easily if the land is suddenly needed. But land development has historically always been a very slow process. Additionally, solar farms can be designed to incorporate compatible land uses, such as grazing, pollinator habitats, and agrivoltaics. Agrivoltaics is a system that combines agriculture and solar power, where crops are grown under the shade of solar panels. This approach not only helps to maximize land use but can also improve crop yields by regulating temperature and moisture levels.
So they say that solar is more expensive, solar causes pollution, and that solar takes up valuable land. But all of these arguments are completely untrue. The time for solar is now.
Governments need to be encouraged to invest in solar power, and individuals can do their part by choosing to switch to solar energy in their homes or businesses. Solar power has the potential to transform our energy systems, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving our air quality. It’s time to move away from fossil fuels and embrace the clean, renewable energy that solar power provides. With advancements in technology and decreasing costs, there has never been a better time to invest in solar.
Next time you talk to folks in the government, encourage them to pursue a clean, profitable, solar-power energy system.