A number of businesses and homeowners are installing solar power systems to reduce their energy costs and offset carbon emissions and the number is growing. It’s one of the best ways to replace brown electricity and create a source of clean energy for decades. The environmental effects of solar are just as compelling. Solar is a sustainable energy source as it produces low carbon emissions.
However, if we consider solar power across its life cycle, solar energy can impact the environment during manufacturing of solar equipment, installation, maintenance, and even disposal after its lifetime.
Contribution to Greenhouse Gases by the Electric Power Sector
It’s proven that the increasing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) is the main cause of global warming. India’s coal-based thermal power generation sector that generates electricity to fulfil the country’s increasing energy demand is one of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide. As on Dec 2020, coal-based power generation releases 1.1 gigatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. This makes up about 2.5% of global GHG emissions as well as accounts for one-third of India’s total GHG emissions and 50% of India’s total carbon emissions from fuel-burning activities.
Many coal-based thermal power generation plants function without any pollution control technology. As a result, unregulated burning of coal in these stations with no carbon capture storage technology in place is leading to aggravated levels of air pollution in India.
However, there are many opportunities available to cut down the current levels of GHG emissions related to electricity generation, transmission, and distribution. One of them is to reduce our dependence on conventional energy sources like coal and shift towards renewable energy sources like solar, wind etc. to generate power.
Low-carbon (emission) Electricity Generation by Solar Panels
Solar is a renewable, green energy source. Unlike fossil fuel-based thermal power, electricity produced by a solar power system is low carbon/low emissions clean energy. Generating electricity through solar power plants will, in turn, shrink or even eliminate the use of coal, thereby reducing our carbon footprint. Just one home or any commercial entity opting for renewable energy is a significant step for saving the environment.
While extraction of fossil fuels causes water and air pollution, they also cost power generation companies a lot, however, sunlight is available for free and in abundance without causing any harmful environmental pollution. It is a no-brainer that extracting solar energy is much easier and sustainable, making it a low-cost, environmentally-friendly alternative.
Even if we think beyond the environmental damage of using fossil fuels, we can’t disregard the fact that conventional energy sources exist in finite quantities. If we continue at the present consumption rate, we are likely to exhaust our non-renewable energy sources by the end of the 22nd century. Shifting to solar electricity will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels that hurt the environment.
Low Carbon Footprint in Solar Plant Set-up and Transportation
It’s true that installing solar power systems causes a lot less emissions than conventional power systems, but they are also not entirely harmless. The process of manufacturing and transporting solar panels uses a lot of electricity and power which is still derived from fossil fuel-based power stations.
Also, the solar carbon footprint during a solar power plant’s initial years of operation is significant. The carbon emissions amount to about 50g for every kilowatt produced every hour. However, this is still 20 times less than the CO2 released from coal-burning power generation. After three years, your residential or commercial solar panels will become carbon neutral as they pay off their carbon debt during the rest of their operational lifespan of 20 years or even longer.
By adopting green solar energy in your homes or businesses, you will eventually reduce your carbon footprint and the use of fossil fuels by the power generation industries.
Consumption of Water in Generating Solar Power
Water scarcity is less-emphasized but a major constraint in India’s solar goals. The expansion of solar power projects is often done at the expense of local groundwater, as not every region has water transmission lines. Also, the unpredictable monsoon season has put more burden on electricity demand as farmers are forced to draw groundwater via electricity pumps to meet agricultural needs.
Although the water consumption in solar energy generation from photovoltaic (PV) technology is only a fraction of coal’s, it can still deter the country’s renewable energy goal to set up more solar energy power plants. Nearly 80% of total solar PV’s water consumption is used during the manufacturing of solar equipment. Water is also required to keep the residential and commercial solar panels clean and maintain optimum power efficiency. The use of water in wet cleaning of solar panels can amount to 7000 and 20000 litres per MW for every wash – as per CEEW.
A foresight into water-energy linkages will enable the country to devise well-rounded renewable energy solutions to meet the energy demands sustainably.
Adding a solar power plant to your commercial or industrial property can have so many advantages for you as well as the planet. These include lower carbon footprints, improving air quality, and lowering energy and operating costs, as well as your dependence on the local grid. Amplus Solar is an ISO-certified leading renewable energy company in Asia that offers customized and technologically advanced solar power systems.
We install high-quality commercial solar panels with the best in class solar components, like solar inverters, battery storage and a remote energy monitoring system, Hawk AI to help you track your solar plant performance. Our solar solutions are assured with our end-to-end service delivery promise. Are you ready to get your on-site or off-site solar plant?
Reach out to us for a solar technical consultation and site visit today.