A question that gets asked quite often is if generating electricity using solar energy over fossil fuels is better for the environment, and the answer is yes. Fossil fuels are the fossilized remains of dead plants and animals containing carbon and hydrogen. Fossil Fuels are finite and used to create non-renewable energy, while solar energy is entirely renewable and will always be abundant.
The Effects Of Mining On The Environment
Fossil fuels are found deep in the land and sea in a solid rock form, gas, or liquids. Extracting or mining these resources is carried out by scraping or digging for them and has a negative impact on the health of our planet and bodies.
Coal is typically found deep underground and is occasionally located close to the ground surface. The extraction method of deep or shallow mining is exceptionally invasive and causes permanent damage to the landscape.
Surface mining has a unique set of consequences since it entails removing the top layer of soil to gain access to the coal beneath, wreaking havoc on local ecosystems. Mountaintop removal is a particularly destructive type of surface mining. It entails removing all trees and other vegetation from peaks and hilltops before blasting hundreds of feet of the earth beneath. Unsurprisingly, local vegetation and biodiversity suffer because of the drastic change in terrain, which effectively kills habitats for a variety of species and makes natural regeneration nearly impossible.
Underground mining not only hurts the environment but is especially harmful to humans. Deep underground coal extraction sites are often abandoned upon the removal of support beams and could potentially weaken the surface structure above and around them. Water that may flow through could become tainted with heavy metals or acid, causing harm to plant and animal life. According to WebMD, approximately 16% of coal miners are diagnosed with Black Lung disease-causing pulmonary distress and a lower life expectancy.
The Harmful Effects Of Converting Fossil Fuels Into Electricity
Coal or oil-fired power plants generate heat, then used to make steam, which drives turbines that generate electricity. These plants produce electricity consistently over long periods and are often inexpensive to construct. However, burning carbon-based fuels emits roughly 21 billion metric tons of Carbon Dioxide (C02) into the atmosphere.
It is undeniable that the large amount of air pollution created by power plants is dangerous to our ecosystem and human life. Acid rain is caused by additional pollutants produced by these plants, such as sulfur and nitrogen oxides. These particulates settle into our rivers, lakes, and oceans, causing a phenomenon called ocean acidification affecting all marine life, especially shellfish.
Solar Energy Is Clean, Green, And Free
Solar energy systems harness pure, clean energy from the sun and produce no pollution. Each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of solar energy produced reduces greenhouse gas emissions such as CO2 and other harmful pollutants, including sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.
A solar energy installation on your home or business will save you thousands of dollars annually and will quickly offset your initial investment. Not only will switching to solar put more money in your wallet, but solar panels will increase the value of your property.
When comparing the environmental impact of solar electricity vs. fossil fuels, it is evident that solar power is the better alternative. Investing in a solar storage battery allows you to access energy even when the sun isn’t shining and helps provide predictability.