The initial cost of purchasing a solar system is quite high. Although solar energy can still be collected during cloudy and rainy days, the efficiency of the solar system decreases. Large-scale utility solar panels take up a lot of space, which can cause environmental degradation and habitat loss. Solar farms that cover a large amount of land are likely to have an impact on local fauna and flora, particularly birds.
Solar parks can also inhibit the growth of local vegetation and damage agriculture. Unlike wind energy, solar panels cannot share the land they occupy for other uses. The burning of fossil fuels for energy is still number one in the world.
Solar energyis sometimes described as a form of energy free of emissions or zero, and it is true that greenhouse gas emissions from solar energy are negligible.
However, building new utility scale solar energy projects will surely generate some greenhouse gas emissions. This fact is recognized in the Final Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed solar farm in California. Solar energy is a rapidly growing market, which should be good news for the environment. The replacement rate of solar panels is faster than expected and, given the current high recycling costs, there is a real danger that all used panels will go directly to landfills (along with wind turbines, which are equally difficult to recycle).
Regulators and industry players must begin to improve the economy and scale of recycling capacities before the avalanche of solar panels hits. Clearing the land for the construction and location of the power plant can have long-term effects on the habitats of native plants and animals. Corporate lobbyists can make convincing arguments in favor of government intervention, focusing on the idea that waste is a negative externality of the rapid innovation necessary for the widespread adoption of new energy technologies, such as solar energy. The use of solar energy can have a positive and indirect effect on the environment when solar energy replaces or reduces the use of other energy sources that have greater effects on the environment.