A family smiling

Does solar or energy storage negatively impact our health?

No. People have been safely living and working around solar panels for decades. Solar energy emits no pollutants and the overall impact of solar on human health is overwhelmingly positive. In fact, studies have shown health-related air quality benefits from solar energy are worth even more than the electricity itself.1

Modern, photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are made of materials typical of those found in electronic equipment and are encased, so as not to pose a concern for the water supply or public health.2

Advanced energy storage utilizes primarily lithium ion batteries, similar to what you would find in your smart phone or laptop computer. Energy storage systems have zero direct air and water impacts and a small footprint, and they can be deployed rapidly at multiple-megawatt scale.

Sources:

1 Wiser, Ryan et al. “On the Path to SunShot: The Environmental and Public Health Benefits of Achieving High Penetrations of Solar Energy in the United States.” National Renewable Energy Laboratory 2016

2Health and Safety Impacts of Solar Photovoltaics,” N.C. State University, N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, May 2017.

 


Birds on top of NextEra Energy Resources solar panels

Does a solar or energy storage project impact the environment?

Utilities across the country are increasingly selecting energy storage and renewable resources as a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable alternative to traditional sources of power generation.

No form of energy is free from environmental impact; however, solar energy has among the lowest impacts as it emits no air or water pollution.

Protecting wildlife and sensitive natural habitats is a priority for NextEra Energy Resources.

As part of our  development process, we conduct thorough wildlife studies and ensure each site complies with all local, state and federal environmental regulations.

What are solar panels made of?

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels typically consist of glass, polymer, aluminum, copper and semiconductor materials that can be recovered and recycled at the end of their useful life.

To provide decades of corrosion-free operation, solar cells are encapsulated from air and moisture between two layers of plastic, with a layer of tempered glass and a polymer sheet or industrial laminate. In the same way a windshield cracks but stays intact, a damaged solar cell does not generally create small pieces of debris.

Crystalline silicon panels represent approximately 90 percent of solar panels in use today. Research has shown they “do not pose a material risk or toxicity to public health and safety.”1

Thin-film solar panels represent a small percentage of panels in use today; some use a stable compound called cadmium telluride or other semi-conductor materials.

Research has shown the tiny amount of cadmium in these panels does not pose a health or safety risk.2

Advanced energy storage utilizes primarily lithium ion batteries, similar to what you would find in your smart phone or laptop computer. Energy storage systems have zero direct air and water impacts and a small footprint, and they can be deployed rapidly at multiple-megawatt scale.

 

What kind of batteries are used for energy storage?

The majority of battery energy storage facilities, including NextEra Energy Resources facilities, employ lithium ion batteries. Lithium ion batteries have benefitted from years of research and development in the electric vehicle industry and have proven efficient, safe, and cost-effective for the growing utility-scale energy storage industry.

Sources:

1Health and Safety Impacts of Solar Photovoltaics,” N.C. State University, N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, May 2017.

2 V. Fthenakis, K. Zweibel, “CdTe: Real and Perceived EHS Risks.” National Center for Photovoltaics and Solar Program Review Meeting, 2003

3 S. Weckend, A. Wade, G. Heath. “End of Life Management: Solar Photovoltaic Panels.” International Renewable Energy Agency, June 2016.

4 The Department of Energy has recently initiated new projects to push forward recycling technology and develop a domestic recycling industry for Li-ion batteries from consumer, EV, and stationary storage. The ReCell Lithium Battery Recycling R&D Center, led by Argonne National Laboratory along with other national labs and universities, is pursuing several areas of recycling innovation. Available at: https://www.anl.gov/article/doe-launches-its-first-lithiumion-battery-recycling-rd-center-recell


What impact will a solar project have on my property value?

There is no evidence to indicate a solar project will impact neighboring property values.  A 2021 study by CohnReznick, a Chicago-based firm that specializes in property valuation, looked at home sales in proximity to six solar farms in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota. It found no measurable impact on property values adjacent to solar farms.

Importantly, a solar project brings numerous economic benefits to a community, including the potential for millions of dollars in additional tax revenue (or payments in lieu of taxes) which can be used to enhance schools, roads and essential services – enhancing both the quality of life and overall value of the community. Solar projects can deliver these economic benefits without making additional demands or impact on community services.

Solar structure being decomissioned

What happens at the end of a solar or energy storage project’s useful life?

Decommissioning is the process of removing all elements of a renewable energy project and returning the land to its original condition. 

Modern solar projects are designed to operate for at least 25-30 years, during which time they are carefully managed and maintained. Energy storage systems, when properly managed and depending on the use case, can last 15-20 years or longer, and can be replenished over time.

We often replace aging solar panels with newer, more efficient technology to extend their useful lives. However, should there no longer be a demand for the project after 30 years, we will decommission it.

To ensure taxpayers do not pay for removing any part of a renewable energy project, our company makes financial commitments to pay the full costs of decommissioning.

This process typically includes removing and disposing of all above-ground infrastructure including solar arrays, inverters, concrete foundations and pads, and fences.