Monday, December 26, 2011

Solar Power- Green with Brown Spots?

70,000 Solar Panels- Click to enlarge
A news release from reminds us that everything has its price.  Even something as "green" as solar power has environmental costs beyond the production of the solar panels themselves.   

The pictured field shows 40 acres of unused land on Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada with 70,000 solar panels.  With hundreds of thousands of acres of solar fields being considered, we need to have an estimate of the environmental costs.  Unfortunately, we don't.

Many of these fields are planned for desert areas where species survival can be fragile.  Habitat changes would include fragmentation from power lines and roads, soil disturbance creating excessive dust and evaporation ponds for the collection of toxins.  Pollutants such as the necessary dust and rust suppressants could threaten the area.  The facilities will generate heat, electromagnetic fields, noise, and polarized light whose cumulative effects on the environment are unknown.

Environmental impact studies will need to be performed before solar fields proliferate.  Solar power is definitely renewable, but once again, everything has its environmental price.

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