To What Extent is Solar PV Renewable?

There are many reasons why solar PV attracts so much attention. The biggest of all perhaps being that it is quite environmentally friendly. Across the globe many countries are attempting to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, respond to climate change, and conserve depleting fossils fuels. These countries try this in numerous ways to discover which alternative energy source has the most advantages and least disadvantages; and solar PV is most definitely in the running.

Considered as a renewable energy source, solar PV depends mainly on the energy given by the sun’s rays. Some argue that solar PV isn’t entirely renewable because in order to harness this great power scientists have built solar cells using silicone a technically nonrenewable resource. This is somewhat of an exaggeration since, although, it is nonrenewable; it “is the second most common element in the Earth’s crust, comprising 25.7% of the Earth’s crust by weight.” This makes it a very attractive source of energy to produce, not to mention silicon is a nontoxic element, unlike others used for energy, such as uranium.

After cell production, solar PV is entirely environmentally friendly. Not only is it a quiet energy producer, but also it does not emit a single air pollutant. During production however, solar PV does emit a negligible amount of greenhouse gases. According to Environmental Science & Technology, “replacing grid electricity with central PV systems presents significant environmental benefits, which…amounts to 89–98% reductions of GHG emissions, criteria pollutants, heavy metals, and radioactive species.” These are very attractive numbers for countries looking to reduce their GHG emissions.

The solar PV cells made of silicon also are extremely durable, most of which can last up to 30 years, and many companies even give a 25-year warranty. This means that replacement of solar PV cells annually would be minimal compared to the upkeep and maintenance of numerous other energy sources, like that of coal. Another beneficial aspect of the cells being made of silicon is the fact that they can be recycled, just like glass, at the end of their lifespan.


About rspv

I'm a first year student in the MSGA program at New York University. I'm considering focusing on the Energy and the Environment sector. I have a BA in East Asian Lang. & Lit. with a concentration in Mandarin Chinese.
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One Response to To What Extent is Solar PV Renewable?

  1. ss6716 says:

    Considering that this blog post mentions that solar is a quiet energy producer which does not emit a single air pollutant. I feel that it is truly the energy source of the future. Other main sources such as coal and nuclear are proving that their faults far outweigh their benefits. Furthermore, I would think that there had to be an unknown down side to solar such as extremely dirty production of the solar panels. However, I was delighted to read that during their production solar PV does emit a negligible amount of greenhouse gases. It may be hard to understand why there has not been an even more substantial increase in solar power recently, but one must take into account the powerful energy companies that benefit greatly from the continuation of the status quo. Viva Solar!

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