Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity is a significant source of greenhouse gases. Many people are also concerned about the long-term environmental impact of nuclear energy, particularly disposal of nuclear waste.
Electricity produced from solar PV power does not add any greenhouse gasses to the environment, excluding the manufacture, transportation and installation of the equipment. Solar power can therefore significantly reduce the need for other more environmentally damaging sources of generation.
By itself, converting to electricity sources that do not rely on fossil fuels is not enough to eliminate greenhouse gases. Other forms of energy consumption — automobiles and other industries — continue to be the biggest sources of greenhouse gases. However, using alternative renewable energy sources does help.
It takes less than three years for a solar PV system to generate the electricity consumed to manufacture and install the system. Therefore, over its 20 – 25 year life, a PV system will produce far more energy than was consumed to manufacture it.
No source of energy is without environmental impact. Solar PV system installation can result in disturbance to or loss of wildlife habitat. However, responsible, careful siting of projects should minimize this issue. Also, transmission lines must be built to take the electricity to market.