Solar Energy Hasn’t Got A Single Thing Going For It
It is true that solar energy “hasn’t got a single thing going for it.” It has many things going for it. So many, in fact, the Columbia Gorge region would be severely disadvantaged if construction of the Goldendale solar farm were cancelled or even substantially delayed. This would probably result in dramatically increasing your power bill!
Bonneville is already generating at capacity. Consequently, Bonneville has been purchasing power from outside providers to meet regional needs. https://bit.ly/3dKRHp3
Hence, Klickitat County could soon benefit from this solar farm. As population increases, without new sources of regionally generated power, Bonneville will need to purchase ever-more power from expensive out-of-region sources.
And that’s not all: more water is needed for agriculture to feed the increasing population. With reduced snow-packs due to climate change, less water will be available for hydroelectric power.
Plus, electric vehicles (EVs) are starting to increase. Each EV’s batteries need charging. This increases the power grid load. Within five to 10 years, EVs will be the majority of cars in use. The nation will consequently need more power, and regions will have less excess to sell to buyers such as Bonneville.
Soon, the BPA will not be able to meet regional power needs with hydroelectric and power purchased from other sources. Will the BPA build costly and potentially hazardous nuclear power plants? No. Or build costly and polluting natural gas-fired generators? No.
Klickitat County is already preparing for this near future by building wind farms, solar farms, methane (from garbage) generators, and pumped-water generators. With increasing power demands, we will benefit from these clean-energy generators, especially with the addition of this solar farm.
Helping meet the region’s energy needs at continued low-cost is just one thing going for solar, of many.
Solar energy is clean energy. Solar farms are healthy for people and the environment. Unlike oil or fracked gas, solar farms don’t emit toxic or flammable fumes, and they don’t pollute the air or well water. Hence, the term, “clean energy.”
Solar panel production has toxic byproducts. These are captured and recycled at the manufacturing site. Yes, spent solar panels must be properly recycled, and this need will be met worldwide https://bit.ly/3sDbIC0.
Articles decrying the negative impact of solar panel manufacturing and recycling fail to compare the much greater negative health and environmental impact of fossil fuel production, transport, and use. Moreover, solar panel manufacturing effluents can be captured and recycled. Fossil fuel byproducts, such as CO2 emissions and plastics, generally accumulate in the environment.
Solar farms don’t destroy farm or ranch land. Before solar farms, good farm or ranch land was destroyed by oil wells, fracking sites, and dozens of pumps.
Smart farmers and ranchers across the nation are making dual use of their land by adopting Agrivoltaics, which enables generating income from their crops or livestock—and from leasing their land for solar power generation. See:
Making solar and agriculture work together
Agrivoltaics: Solar Panels on Farms Could Be a Win-Win
Solar farms don’t generate microwave energy or produce strong electromagnetic fields (EMF). Solar farms produce DC or direct current power, just like a battery. The DC is converted by an inverter to AC for residential or commercial use via the grid. Solar panel EMF is typically much less than that generated by home appliances, such as refrigerators or hair dryers.
A solar farm is unlikely to cause Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EMH), which is induced by microwave energy, such as from cell phones, WiFi, or satellite DIRECTV transmissions. Unlike the solar farm per se, the century-old high-power transmission lines do produce strong EMF and could affect an EMH person.
Solar farms won’t start electrical fires, when they’ve been properly installed. Yes, a fire could be started by a DC arc fault caused by an improper connection (extremely rare). Certainly, the Goldendale solar farm will be installed and maintained by experienced and licensed solar electricians. Heat produced by operating panels is too low to ignite fires.
The Effects Of Solar Farms On Local Biodiversity: A Comparative Study (2016)
Environmental Review Of Solar Farms In The Southeast U.S. (2017)
Pollinator-Friendly Solar Installations Benefit Wildlife, Farmers, Climate (2020)