The Environmental Impact of Solar Panels

Solar panels are an effective way to use clean energy, which preserves the environment from carbon emissions.

Over the last few years, solar panels have become more accessible worldwide. These days, solar panels also come in travel-size packs, allowing you to charge your phone and other small appliances.

In this article, we’ll look at how solar panels are made, the impact of their existence on our environment, and how we can benefit from their use.

How Solar Panels Are Made

The material used in the making of solar panels mostly includes:

  • Silicone
  • Solar Cells
  • Glass

The process starts with sand being converted into crystallized silicone. The silicone rocks are collected from the bottom of the sand pile once it has been cooled. They are then formed into ingots by being melted together; infusion of boron gives it positive electricity polarity.

It is then ground, polished and wafer-ed to create smooth flat side silicon wafers. They are then cut thinly to reduce waste as much as possible, increasing production efficiencies. Boron is then added to silicon wafers to form two types of silicon; N-type silicon and P-type silicon. Their magnetic attributes help in pushing each other away.

Both types are then weaved to be soldered together in a grid-like matrix. This helps place the silicon cells in a way that they absorb maximum sunlight.

Environmental Impact

Solar energy plays an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as it helps create clean energy. It means that the extraction of solar resources creates no carbon dioxide or other hazardous gases.

However, some parts of the extraction process of solar energy affect the environment around it. This is usually because a large amount of land is required to place the panels. Moreover, there is the use of water resources in the making of components of solar panels, and it has a direct effect on the wildlife around it.

Here are a few environmental factors affected by the extraction of solar power:

Land Use

Ideally, solar panels need to be positioned in areas that get plenty of sun. Many times, the location has a bumpy terrain and dense vegetation, so it’s rare to find a natural clearing to install solar panels. Therefore, deforestation steps are taken to construct solar panel sites.

The area needed for the panels is directly proportional to the amount of energy required. For example, powering an entire neighborhood will require clearing out acres and acres of land.

The requirements are also based on the technology of your solar panels, the topography site, and the intensity of the solar resource. Due to its functionality, the land is less likely to be shared with agricultural land uses.

Water Use

Solar panels PV cells don’t require water. However, manufacturing PV cells does require large amounts of water.

Solar thermal plants require water to cool the solar equipment. It depends on how much is used based on the plant design, location, and type of cooling system. It is estimated that 600-650 gallons of water are used in the construction of PV cells for solar panels.

However, as an alternative to a cooling system, dry-cooling technology can be used instead of water to cool down the PV components. Still, using the dry-cooling method can increase the cost and lower the production efficiency of PV cells.

Hazardous Materials

Many forms of chemicals are used in manufacturing PV cells, mostly used to clean surfaces of semiconductors. The amount of chemicals used is based on the number and type of cells manufactured.

The production of PV cells also poses some safety risks, such as the inhalation of silicon dust, which can harm the workers assembling the product. It’s why government agencies have released strict safety protocols to reduce the risks of chronic diseases that affect workers’ health.

Global Warming Emissions

Generally, when using solar panels, there are no byproducts like greenhouse gases that can negatively affect the environment. However, the production and manufacturing process often impacts the environment with an additional cost from material transportation, installation, and maintenance that can create greenhouse gasses emissions.

However, no matter the number, the level of emissions is still lower than what the use of natural gases creates in the ozone layer.

Benefits of Installation

Here are 5 benefits of turning towards solar energy for power usage in your everyday life:

1. Impact on Environment

By reducing carbon emissions, it can bring back wildlife and natural resources, proving to make the environment greener.

2. Reduction in Energy Bill

By installing solar panels, you generate your own power. In time, you’ll see a decrease in the electricity bill as most of the power you need to run appliances in the home comes from the sun.

3. Energy Production

With ample energy being produced, there is still a lot of access to energy that you can collect and use to power your home at night.

4. Accessibility

Solar panels require a few places where you can access power anywhere and everywhere you go. All that is needed is a collection source and a storage area to keep the excess energy for later use.

These are implemented well in rural areas due to the space available that can power entire neighborhoods.

5. Reduction Is Electricity Loss

Solar panels reduce the cost of losing precious energy resources as the energy does not need to be transported and can be used directly.


Although the production of solar panels can have some negative effects, the amount of energy it provides and the reduction of greenhouse gases makes them a better alternative to fossil fuels. Receiving clean energy is not only beneficial for the environment, but also reduces the dangers of natural disasters that can have a lasting effect on communities.