PV and the Environment
It is clean energy. Even when the emissions related to solar cell manufacturing are counted, photovoltaic generation produces less than 4 percent of the carbon dioxide from a conventional coal-fired power plant. Using solar energy to replace the use of traditional fossil fuel energy sources can prevent the release of pollutants into the atmosphere.
Using solar energy to supply a million homes with energy would reduce CO2 emissions by 4.3 million tons per year, the equivalent of removing 850,000 cars from the road.
Have you ever heard of people planting a tree because it's good for the environment? One home with 3.5 kW solar power system will eliminate 6,076 lbs of CO2 in it's first year. This is the equivalent of planting 20,457 sq. ft. of trees.
Solar energy uses fewer natural resources than conventional energy sources. Using energy from sunlight can replace the use of stored energy in natural resources such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal. Energy industry researchers estimate that the amount of land required for photovoltaic (PV) cells to produce enough electricity to meet all U.S. power needs is less than 60,000 square kilometers, or roughly 20 percent of the area of Arizona. Solar Power is abundant. Every 20 minutes enough energy hits the surface of the United States to power the country for a year.
An average U.S. Household uses 830 kWh or electricity per month. On average, producing 1,000 kWh of electricity with solar power reduces emissions by nearly 8 pounds of sulfer dioxide, 5 pounds of nitrogen oxides, and more than 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide.
During the 50 year period between 1930 and 1980 coal mining has disturbed about 24,000 square kilometers in the US. Unlike solar, getting more coal means disturbing more land. Coal supplies about 50% of our power in the US. Comparing this to 30,000 square kilometers of solar arrays would not be fair at all because that 30,000 kilometers of solar would generate power in perpetuity. Furthermore, a large percentage of solar power is generated on rooftops and cause no extra use of land much less it's destruction.