Do clean energy projects have adverse effects?

There can always be adverse unintended consequences when we seek to make the world better. The trick is knowing the difference and proceed understanding the whole picture.

When Florida brought in thirsty melaleuca trees to deal with the swampy conditions they never dreamed they would snuff out native species and they would be impossible to eradicate. We need to learn from these lessons and consider the domino effect of what we do. It is great to institute clean energy projects, but we must be cognizant of the potential adverse effects when doing so.

The first thing to realize is that there are always effects. The responsibility is knowing when the risks outweigh the benefits and being open to turning course to find a different solution, or at the very least a solution to the risks. With clean energy products, one must consider the sources and the end game.

Clean energy projects and products produce waste.

Whether your option to “Go Green” involves putting in a solar power system into your home or business, or getting a hybrid or all-electric automobile, you need to recognize that they didn’t just get wished into being. It took quite a bit of energy and materials to bring them to market.

It takes quite a bit of energy and materials to bring them to market.

The batteries alone require the manufacture of copper or lithium which is energy demanding and an environmental impact. Lithium-ion systems are common in electric vehicles, replacing the nickel-metal hydride batteries previously used. Lithium-manganese-cobalt-oxide batteries (NMC) are commonly used for hybrid and electric cars.

The concern about these is primarily about the cobalt component, which is poisonous and a known carcinogenic.

Solar panels are likewise of concern with various hazardous materials used during their production. There are factors to consider regarding silicon chips including large amounts of sodium hydroxide, corrosive chemicals and toxins.

So Why Do It?

With all the environmental concerns, one might begin to wonder if it is wise to institute clean energy projects. Despite these dangers, it is. The reason is that fossil fuels are worse.

Clean energy options provide renewable energy that far outweighs the manageable hazards.

If we were to stop considering clean energy methods, we would never work harder to overcome the safety and cost barriers, and that would leave us in a stagnant position keeping us dependent on fossil fuels forever. Eventually we will completely conquer efficient energy storage solutions without as many adverse effects.

Solar Energy Storage

AHI batteries provide safe, reliable, sustainable and cost-effective energy storage. Image credit: Aquion Energy

As we invent new batteries and safer ways to make solar panels, we move away from the dangers and toward gadgets and vehicles are not killing the planet.

We must also have a plan in place for the safe disposal of the old technologies. Although clean energy products have a long lifespan, eventually they need to be replaced. Recycling these properly will further protect the environment.

Improvements in clean energy product production and disposal are happening constantly, and you can be a part of keeping it moving forward by embracing clean energy projects. You can make a difference in the health of the environment, and with demand there is more incentive for continuing progress.

Image credit: via FlickR under CC license

 

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