Solar energy is considered to be our most promising alternative to fossil fuels and other non-renewable energy sources. The entire world is currently examining solar energy and trying to figure out how they can all go fully solar within the next few decades. It is of course a lot of investment and it will take a lot of time, but it is the only way we can save the planet, because if we continue as we currently are, then this planet will soon become inhabitable for us.
Solar energy and the entire solar power setup can revolutionize how we generate and harness electricity, however, some rumors are circulating about how solar panels might be posing as a hidden threat to cows. It sounds silly but a lot of people believe that solar panels are responsible for the gradual death of cows.
The explanation for this claim is that solar panels produce a lot of electricity and this excess electricity ends up flowing into the ground, and then affects the cow’s in-turn causing them to lose weight and die. We will be addressing this concern later.
Yes, solar panels and solar power are not entirely perfect, and some disadvantages come with solar panels and this includes things like solar energy emission risks, stray voltage, degradation, and the disposal of waste that is produced in the process.
We will also talk about the steps of solar panel installation and how you can maintain your solar panels and solar boards properly as well.
To understand what stray voltage is, it is essentially a minor voltage that measures between 2 points (it is usually <10V). When current leaks or connections end up breaking between the electrical circuit and the earth, the leakage is referred to as stray voltage.
Several factors including humidity, manure, corrosiveness, etc. a dairy barn is not generally a safe place for both electrical equipment and wiring. The issue with stray voltage is that the low current can definitely be conducted and hence will flow through animals. Stray voltage can be the only possible explanation for this phenomenon, and it might also be linked to lower levels of milk production amongst dairy farms.
Some vets have reported that this leak can explain the steady decline amongst dairy cattle, and they believe that stray voltage might also be linked to some health and behavioral changes in cattle which includes:
- Drops in appetite
- Lower volumes of milk production
- Hesitation in entering the milking area
- Increase in overall nervousness
- Milking problems like incomplete
The reason why we are talking about cows specifically is that they can sense voltage at a level that is a tenth of the level that humans do. So, if your farm has faulty wiring, unsafe grounding, damaged or broken electrical devices, etc. then all of those can also end up causing a fluctuation of stray voltage levels on a farm.
Dealing With Stray Voltage
If you suspect that you might be dealing with stray voltage or a leak, you can call in professionals and have them perform some electrical tests to make sure that the voltage in your ground is normal and there are no issues of a leak. In case there is stray voltage detected and it cannot be fixed or controlled, then you will have to direct your attention towards making sure that it does not affect the animals on your property, and for this, you will have to consult experts or consider relocating your animals if it gets too bad.
The Risks of Solar Emissions
Another concern that has been rising amongst the population is related to the overall rise in solar activity and fluctuations in thermal balance. In case the earth does end up absorbing extra energy than required, it does end up releasing the excess back into the atmosphere, and a lot of people speculate that this rise in thermal movement will end up affecting the survival chances of both plants and animals.
Solar panels are supposed to bring forth a future of clean and renewable energy, however, it is still important to acknowledge that the production and installation process is still not entirely eco-friendly yet. Some harmful chemicals and gas emissions happen as a result of the manufacturing process, and this because of some of the materials that are used during the solar production process. Solar panels are usually made of Silicon, which is in turn derived from quartz. To extract the silicon from the quartz, it has to be heated at a high temperature and this in turn prompts the release of both Sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide in the air, both of which are incredibly toxic for both animals and humans.
Another chemical that is released during the manufacturing of silicon happens to be Silicon tetrachloride which is an incredibly caustic and toxic chemical that can cause burns on the skin if not careful. It can also make one vulnerable to lung disease if left lingering in the air. Lastly, hydrochloric acid is released by silicon tetrachloride which is an incredibly strong and dangerous acid that can harm anything it comes in contact with.
Dangers During The Installation Process
Sadly, the installation process for solar panels is not entirely eco-friendly yet either. Thin-film panels are another variant of solar panels, and during the installation process, they release many harmful chemicals which include cadmium telluride and copper indium selenide.
Of course, good and responsible solar panel installers will take care to handle all of the chemicals that are released during the installation and manufacturing process. The solar panels themselves do not cause any risk to humans or the environment, but this responsibility ultimately falls on the manufacturers and installers to make sure they are dealing with all of the emissions and chemicals properly before disposing of them safely.
Disposing Panel Waste
Sadly, the clean energy process is becoming slowly polluted. Solar board waste is beginning to collect and pile up, and if not dealt with properly, can pose as an additional environmental risk, something we already do not need.
An independent study conducted by Environmental Progress (EP) has found there solar panels are emanating harmful waste which can become a global environmental threat. Solar-powered systems produce up to 300 more deadly kinds of waste when compared to nuclear power, which is insane. This waste consists of chromium, cadmium, lead, and a variety of other elements and chemicals that can become a threat to all living things if they go unchecked. There are a lot of safety regulations in place for nuclear power, however, there is no similar check and balance for solar power when it comes to anything like the monitoring process, production, disposal, or treatment of waste.
Some countries end up burning old and used solar panel materials and consider it a safe process. However, when this happens, many harmful gases, fumes, carcinogens, and teratogens end up getting released into the environment.
Carcinogens are very harmful and hazardous and can end up making one vulnerable to different types of cancers. Teratogens, on the other hand, play a part in cause birth defects not just to animals, but to humans as well.
Other countries are dabbling in recycling their solar materials and panels, but there is still a lot of experimentation and work that needs to be done before this can be considered safe as well.
Degradation of The Land
If you want to generate a lot of energy via solar panels, then you will need to establish solar farms which will in-turn require a lot of lands. Yes, for powering residential units, we place the solar panels on the roof, however, if you are looking to produce on a bigger scale, then you will need to get the solar panels mounted to the ground. Of course, the problem here with occupying a large piece of land for solar production is that it will eventually end up affecting the animals and the plants in the area. This can cause problems like limited growth in your crops, and your livestock becoming unhealthy.
The Pros Still Outweigh The Cons
It can be very tempting to throw in the towel after reading all of this and it might seem like all hope is lost, but that is not the case. Yes, climate change and global warming are currently one of the biggest threats that we are dealing with, and while it may seem like nothing can be done, there is still hope.
Greenhouse gases and carbon emissions are responsible for most of our carbon footprint, and these emissions are a result of the use of fossil fuels (petroleum, gas, and coal). Yes, renewable energy systems still create some waste and are responsible for some damage, but the damage and harm are still not as significant as the one being done by non-renewable energy sources. Our global energy consumption has not decreased and is only expected to increase over time, and if we continue relying on non-renewable energy resources to meet those needs, then this planet will not last very long. However, with renewable energy, we still have a chance of reversing some of the harmful effects of greenhouse gases and we will reduce our emissions significantly.
There are several sources of renewable energy which include and are not limited to wind, solar, geothermal, and so on. Solar energy allows us to create power without worrying about air pollution, fuel costs, or price spikes, this can lead to cleaner and cheaper energy for countries around the world.
Solar panels still have a lot of potentials as a sustainable and eco-friendly source of power, and yes, it is not perfect yet, but there is still a lot that can be done, and if the proper regulations and systems are put in place, then we can significantly reduce the problem of harmful emissions and chemical waste.
The Production of Solar Energy
We have been talking a lot about the dangers of solar energy, but there are still a lot of people who are not yet familiar with how solar energy works. Like the name suggests solar energy involves harnessing and then converting sunlight into energy which can be used for heat generation or electricity.
The magic lies in solar panels which are made of monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon. Once the panel is placed in front of sunlight, electrons are knocked off of the silicon atom, and these electrons flow to and move towards just one end of a silicon panel cell. This movement of the electrons ends up generating electricity which will then be stored in the battery or will be available for immediate use. Different panel types perform at different levels of efficiency so you will be able to satisfy all of your electrical needs.
Maintaining Your Solar Panels
Solar panels do not require a lot of maintenance once the installation process has been complete, and any maintenance that needs to be done is minimal. The only thing you need to be careful and wary of when it comes to your solar panels is ensuring that there is no dust, debris, or snow covering the panels since they will end up affecting the overall performance and efficiency of your panels.
Always consult your manufacturer before trying to tamper with your solar panels because some offer free cleaning services, others do it at a minimal cost, and some manufacturers even end up canceling your warranty if they discover that you tried handling and cleaning the solar panels themselves. So always check with your manufacturer before you attempt to do any sort of maintenance work on your solar panel. You can also call in the person that installed your solar panels to come and check them out once every year or two as a sort of annual inspection to make sure that everything is in good condition and working smoothly. This will also help you identify potential problems while they are still small.
There is still no concrete evidence that solar panels are killing cows, and it has more to do with electrical leaks, and bad planning, yes, the manufacturing and installation process can be dangerous given the chemicals that are released, however, the process of solar panels generating energy or the maintenance and care of solar panels does not end up harming or affecting cows.
Yes, solar panels are not entirely removed from sin and they are capable of causing some damage, however, when we compare it next to the damage and emissions caused by fossil fuels, then we know that solar energy is the clear winner and if we want to ensure that we have a safe and sustainable future then promoting solar and other sources of renewable energy is the way to go.