One negative environmental effect of manufacturing solar panels is that it takes approximately four years of use to offset the energy used to manufacture a solar panel. There are also sources who claim that fossil fuels are used to produce solar panels, but this is a debatable claim. While there are definitely negative short-term environmental effects resulting from the manufacturing of solar panels, if properly used and maintained solar panels prove to be more of an environmental benefactor than an eco-abuser in the long-run.
Photo voltaic solar panels also use silicon in the production. Silicon is a metalloid, a chemical element that is mined out of the Earth. It does not show up freely in nature, but as oxides in rocks such as granite, clay, mica, feldspar and a few others. To get to the element, the rocks must be mined and heated to extract the silicon. These are energy intensive activities that also disrupt natural areas. Since solar panel cells need silicon, part of their manufacturing harms the environment.
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