Are solar panels the best way to get electricity without harming the environment?

Question by Jesse: Are solar panels the best way to get electricity without harming the environment?
I have a project and im in grade nine the project is about saving electricity. We had many choices to choose from wind,hydro, solar, geothermal, nuclear and solar. I choose solar but now im wondering if i made the right decision. We have to design a poster talking about how it works and is it the BEST
way to get electricity without harming the environment ? HELP ANYONE?

Best answer:

Answer by ʝe ne sais pas♥
Wind is also good. It depends on the weather where you live.

What do you think? Answer below!

7 thoughts on “Are solar panels the best way to get electricity without harming the environment?

  1. Well… I’d say on a grand scale you’re a little stuck. It’s not the best energy source. The power output from solar stations has been really disappointing. And there are limited locations where it’s worthwhile to put a solar station to begin with.

    On top of that, there is no great contingency plan for days of extended low production (lots of cloudy/dim days). We can’t store energy that wonderfully, so especially sunny days won’t really help you “stock up”.

    Solar stations just aren’t really worth it. There’s a couple nasty chemicals involved and they’re exceptionally expensive. I don’t see many more stations going up unless our technology improves.

    However, your ace-in-the-hole is that solar is one of the ONLY methods of “clean” power production that can be used on an individual basis. If every home and business were to install solar panels, that would cut our world’s electricity requirement by close to a third. And this isn’t a decision in the hands of power companies; this is something a person can do on their own. Any person.

    Solar is very valuable in that regard. Forget the solar stations, and use it to individually ease the burden put on other plants. And, hey, it’ll lower the electricity bill too.

  2. as i understood your project is about saving energy….

    think about switching off light when you are not in a room, don’t waste water wile showering, turn down the thermostat in rooms where you don’t walk frequently in…

    Solar Energy technology is quite expensive, you can get your money bank in like 8-10 years

  3. There are many benefits of solar energy. However as far as being the best of alternative energy is questionable. On the one hand, solar panels come at a high cost for the environment because of the materials used to make them. At the same time though, solar energy is there, and is going to be released as a heat energy ultimately so using the higher form of energy from solar radiation is very beneficial. As with all of these ideas, they can be successful given proper technological advances.

  4. Solar panels CAN be used almost anywhere, BUT they are still expensive and the making of the panels DOES produce some toxic wastes.

  5. For decades, solar proponents have predicted that we would soon get 20% to 100% of our energy from solar sources — , wind, solar-thermal, photovoltaics and others.
    The dreamy-eyed predictions all failed because they were based on emotional urges and political agendas rather than honest assessments. The gurus were numerous, but solar energy is a topic of science, where votes don’t count, even when they come from high-profile lawyers, political appointees, and leaders of environmental organizations
    solar panels and wind mills use up valuable farm land that could be used to grow crops, plus every year thousands of birds are killed flying into wind turbines but the enviro nut cases will never mention that

  6. Solar is good, but not the most cost effective. Wind is more cost effective but could possibly harm birds flying into the propellers. They do have vertical wind generators which look more of a solid flat surface so only stupid birds will fly into them as they look like a wall.

    To generate 36kWh a day with wind would cost about $3,000, to do the same with solar will cost you $20,500

    hydro you have the same with fish getting whacked like the birds with wind. geothermal is very good, but also very expensive. Nuclear I’d imagine would be the worse as it would have harmful radiation in the area of the reactor.

  7. Hey Jesse, you’re timing is perfect. Solar actually might be the best environmental way to produce electricity, but many of your anwers here are correct that it will never produce the power we need, not because solar isn’t powerful enough, but because the way we harness it is quite inefficient. Solar electric, or, “photovoltiac,” panels only convert about 12% of the incoming sun into electricity, the rest just heats up the panel. Arguments such as Erins that they offset agricultural production are baseless since most of these devices are on the roof tops of homes and businesses, or in the desert. Our home has been powered by the wind and sun for 11 years now, my panels sit on the garage roof, I don’t grow tomatoes up there, and they run the entire home. We have a wind turbine in the field behind our home, and in 11 years, I’ve never found a single dead bird under the turbine. The flower bed in front of our homes picture window is another story though. In the first days of the Altamont Pass wind project in California, there was a problem of dead birds, specifically Golden Eagles, which are rare raptors. Turns out the particular type of blade they used there mimmicked the mating call of these birds. Since then turbine blades have been redesigned, and the problem of bird kills has been pretty much eliminated. Solar electric panels are still very useful, but the real answer is actually in the desert.

    The Germans are working on a project right now to use the sun and heat in the desert to make electricity which will be more like 60% efficient. How it works is they use large concentrators to focus the hot sun on collectors that heat oil to several hundred degrees. The oil is circulated into a huge insulated tank, then an oil to water heat exchanger is used to take sea water, boil it into steam and run a steam turbine. The turbine turns a generator and makes electricity. As a by product, the recondensed steam becomes fresh water, the salt is naturally extracted in the boiling process and seperated out, and the fresh water is then used to irrigate crops that will grow alongside the solar concentrators. So we can take a patch of desert, devoid of life, make electricity and grow food all at the same time with just the power of the sun. They will produce enough power to run all of Europe with just the northwest corner of the Sahara. No wildlife will be displaced, but the crops, partial shade and water will attract new wildlife to the area. Another benefit of this system is with all the oil heated and stored in an insulated tank, it can continue to boil water even when passing clouds shade the concentrators, or well into the night. So now we have access to solar power at night too. And the oil is continually recirculated, none of it gets burned or used up. Once it’s operating, it can continue to produce electricity and fresh water for decades without any emissions. It is very promising, and if it works as well there as they hope, I’m sure in another 10 years you’ll see them on all continents, including ours.

    Stick with your choice for solar Jesse, we did 11 years ago, and our array puts out the same amount of power today as it did then. I’ve never turned a screw on my solar array or had to add a drop of oil, and our home has not been without power for even a minute in all those years. Hard to put a price on that. In your research you will undoubtedly hear the argument that, “Solar panels never produce as much power as was used to produce them.” This is blatently false, tons of research has been done to prove that the, “Embodied Energy,” in a solar panel is earned back in just a few years. But even if it weren’t, it wouldn’t matter. Coal, oil and natural gas electric plants never earn back their embodied energy because no matter how efficient they might be, once you build one, it then has to be fed more fuel to make electricity, so it never does get even environmentally. It always amazes me how we’ve been burning coal and oil for years, but as soon as someone comes up with something as clever as a photovoltiac panel, the world is always trying to discredit it. Keep that in mind when you are doing research and answering questions about this subject.

    You can see articles and pictures of the project by clicking on the links below, or try venturing out on your own by googling phrases like, “Desertec Project,” or, “Northwest Sahara Solar Project.” You will probably find some great photos to use too. Take care Jesse, Rudydoo

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