How Do Solar Panels Help the Environment?

rooftop solar of Australian homes

As of September 2023, there have been over 3 million photovoltaic installations in Australia.

With the ever-growing interest in solar energy, many of our customers want to know how switching to solar panels can help reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a greener planet.

To answer these questions, we set out to create the ultimate guide to solar energy and sustainability.

In this guide, we’ll answer common questions, such as:

  • Are solar panels environmentally friendly?
  • What are the economic benefits of solar power?
  • How much solar power is needed to go off-grid and become self-sufficient?
  • What is the environmental impact of solar batteries?
  • Can solar panels be recycled?

Are Solar Panels Environmentally Friendly?

Our customers ask us this question often. And the answer is a resounding YES! 

Here are 9 environmental environmental benefits of solar power:

  1. Reduction in Greenhouse Gases

    Traditional power plants burn fossil fuels and release greenhouse gasses and pollutants, such as:

    • Carbon dioxide
    • Nitrogen oxides
    • Particulates
    • Sulfur dioxides
    • Mercury

    Solar power systems can generate energy without fossil fuels that release harmful emissions.

    By harnessing light energy, solar panels can reduce the production of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases that can harm our planet.

    By using the light from the sun to create energy, we can take actionable steps forward in protecting the environment, both here in Australia and globally.

  2. Reduced Water Consumption – Solar systems support water conservation since they consume less water compared to traditional power plants. Reducing water consumption helps conserve water for other applications and supports a healthier environment.
  3. Renewable Energy – Solar power takes advantage of the endless supply of light energy produced by the sun, creating a renewable, sustainable source of energy. Solar panels absorb light particles and harness energy from them, converting it into usable energy for homes and businesses.
  4. Reduced Land Consumption – Solar panels require minimal space to be installed. The ability to install them in remote areas or on a roof eliminates the need to clear large-scale areas of land. This can help reduce habitat destruction and land consumption, contributing to the preservation of natural ecosystems.
  5. Reduced Noise Pollution – Solar power systems generate electricity without the noise pollution that results from operations at a typical power plant.
  6. Improved Air and Water Quality – Relying on solar power systems for energy production rather than fossil fuels reduces harmful emissions. This can significantly cut down on harmful pollutants that get released into the air and water.
  7. Long-Term Clean Energy Production – Quality solar panels can be expected to last for 25 or even 30 years or more. With such a long lifespan, solar panels provide a long-term source of clean, renewable energy production. Throughout this decade’s long lifespan, solar panels consistently generate clean energy with minimal impact on the environment. 
  8. Reduced Reliance on Fossil Fuels

    Solar panels do require energy to produce, but they are still more eco-friendly than standard power plants.

    Power plants operate by burning fossil fuels that can damage local ecosystems and leach pollutants and chemicals into the water and air.

    Fossil fuels are also a finite resource that will eventually be exhausted. By harnessing light from the sun, solar panels offer an effective, renewable alternative to fossil fuels.

    By reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, we can significantly cut down on greenhouse gasses and carbon emissions.

  9. Reduced Need for Long-Distance Energy Transportation – Solar power systems are almost always installed close to where the energy consumption is needed. This eliminates the need for the long-distance transportation of energy and reduces the carbon emissions associated with these transports. 

commercial building with large array of solar panels

The Economic Benefits of Solar Power

Solar power offers both local and global economic benefits. Both consumers and business owners can take advantage of potential cost savings through solar energy usage.

  1. Job Creation

    The renewable energy industry has created thousands of jobs in Australia. The need for the design, installation, operation, and maintenance of solar power systems has created vast employment opportunities.

    Jobs in the solar energy industry involve research, development, sales, installation, design, maintenance and servicing, and more. All of these positions contribute to a stronger local economy through sustainable employment opportunities.

  2. Savings Due to Environmental Benefits

    The environmental benefits of solar energy can also promote economic savings. Reducing air and water pollution can help promote a healthier population.

    Improved public health can translate to lower medical costs for individuals and lower healthcare expenses for the government.

  3. Increased Independence from the Power Grid

    Solar power makes it possible for businesses and households to generate their own clean energy. This reduces reliance on power grids and fosters independence.

    This increased independence from the power grid reduces susceptibility to volatility due to natural disasters, price hikes, and grid failures.

  4. Provide a Buffer Against Inflation

    Solar power systems offer a predictable, stable electricity source. After installation, home or business owners are protected against volatile fossil fuel prices.

  5. Enhance Property Values

    Homes and businesses that run on solar power systems are often favoured by eco-conscious investors and buyers. This can result in higher property values for homes and businesses with solar power systems.

  6. Move Closer to Corporate Sustainability Goals

    Companies equipped with solar power systems promote social responsibility and can help encourage other local businesses to aim to be more eco-friendly. This can promote an improved reputation for the company, along with attracting eco-conscious investors and consumers.

  7. Improve Energy Accessibility in Remote Areas

    Remote or off-grid areas used to have limited options for energy sources. Rather than requiring long-distance energy delivery or expansive infrastructure, solar power creates a sustainable solution for generating energy in off-grid or remote locations.

How Much Solar Do I Need to be Self-Sufficient?

If you dream of going off-grid, a self-sufficient solar system will be a crucial aspect of your setup. 

A full off-grid solar system will require: 

  • Solar panels
  • Power inverter
  • Batteries (you can learn more here in our Solar Battery Guide
  • Cables, routers, connections, and other equipment 
  • Charge controller

Calculating the right size solar system for a self-sufficient operation will depend on a wide range of factors. Every household is unique, with its own energy consumption, setup considerations, and local factors to keep in mind.

We recommend contacting our team to determine the residential solar package that will suit your needs, setup, and location.

If self-sustainability is your goal, we can design and install a custom off-grid solar solution that fits your needs.

We offer customised residential solar packages that will reduce your carbon emissions, cut your energy costs, and give you independence from the power grid.

Whether you want to be 100% self-sufficient or want a solar system that will slash your energy bills and cut your carbon emissions, we can calculate the solar system size that will work best for you.

You can also use our simple Home Solar Calculator to get an idea of the right size solar system for your home

electrician on roof installing solar panels

What Is the Environmental Impact of Solar Batteries?

Solar battery banks store excess electricity to be used later. Solar batteries are beneficial for homeowners seeking to reduce their reliance on the grid or planning to go off-grid completely.

However, there are environmental concerns regarding solar batteries. The materials used to produce solar batteries are costly and complicated to mine and can be hazardous to the workers.

Environmental concerns surrounding the mining process include water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and habitat destruction.

Fortunately, efforts are being made to reduce these environmental concerns surrounding solar batteries. As solar technology continues to evolve, we expect to see more environmentally friendly solutions to address these important concerns.

Can Solar Panels Be Recycled?

Many homeowners also ask us, “How are solar panels disposed of when they need to be replaced?”.

This is an excellent question. It is crucial to dispose of solar batteries and solar panels correctly, as they can release heavy metals and chemicals into the ecosystem if they are disposed of improperly.

In South Australia and Victoria, solar panels are banned from ending up in landfills. Instead, they are required to be dropped off at e-waste sites for recycling.

With continued research and advances, we expect to see drastic increases in solar cell efficiency to reduce waste. Efforts are also being made to make recycling solar panels more profitable.

Want To Learn More About Reducing Your Carbon Footprint with Solar Energy?

Solar panels allow Australians to harness renewable energy from the sun to power their homes and businesses.

We foresee the solar industry becoming even more environmentally friendly as continued advances are made to create more sustainable manufacturing and recycling processes.

If you would like to transition to a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly future, contact our dedicated team. We are here to answer all of our questions or to help you calculate the right size solar system for your location and energy needs.