Considered in terms of a life cycle, a photovoltaic system is 100% renewable, free of pollutants and emissions and directly reduces the carbon footprint of your home or business as well as the carbon footprint of your community.
This is true once the system is installed on your rooftop. The manufacturing and disposal process, however, may be a different story.
The manufacturing of solar panels, like other electronics including your cell phone and laptop, contains a number of toxic materials like cadmium telluride, copper indium selenide and sulfur hexafluoride, a few chemicals routinely used in the manufacture of electronics. Responsible manufacturers recycle these toxic chemicals.
Further, it is important to note, that while the chemicals used in manufacturing are hazardous, this is not so while the panels are on the roof of your house or business. Toxicity concerns arise during the manufacturing process and the disposal process required at the end of the photovoltaic system’s lifetime.
A July 2011 study by the World Nuclear Association found that solar’s carbon footprint averaged roughly 85 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per gigawatt-hour ( GWh) while natural gas and coal came in at 499 metric tons per GWh and 888 metric tons per GWh respectively.
Responsible solar panel manufactures ensure that chemicals used in the manufacturing process are handled properly. They also continue to improve their processes to improve sustainability. If you are interested in finding out more, the Solar Scorecard is a good resource to find out about various manufacturers who have responded to requests for information.
Another important factor to consider is that solar panels produce electricity for up to 35 years after installation and recycling options for systems that age out are being constantly upgraded.
The environmental benefit from going solar far outweighs staying with a conventional dirty energy solution, not to mention that it saves a money of the lifetime of the system as well as increasing the value of your home.
The bottom line is that going solar does have a positive impact on the environment and individual finances. Using solar energy lowers the overall greenhouse gas emissions and reduces your carbon footprint. At SunLynk will can help you to find an installer in your area who can answer questions you have on the system itself, costs and considerations, and manufacturers. Our installer’s quotes include information on the type of panel that they are recommending and why.