Myth: Solar Panels Are Environmentally Clean

Solar panels are often touted as the environmentally friendly alternative energy source, but they carry many hidden environmental harms. To start, the solar cells themselves require many rare earth minerals that must be harvested from dirty strip mines throughout the world to construct the photovoltaic cell itself and the massive batteries needed to store the power generated. After the solar cells are made, they must be placed in an area with unrestricted sunlight, occasionally leading to deforestation and the displacement of nearby wildlife.

Solar cells do not last forever. When solar cells can no longer generate power, they become toxic trash. Solar panels can be recycled in special facilities, but there is no requirement to recycle solar panels in the U.S.

This post is part of a weekly series on environmental myths. You can find more myths here