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Too Close to Home: The Realities of Living Next to a Solar Energy Field
- Solar energy is leading the transition into a cleaner energy future. The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects solar technology to dominate the energy industry by 2050. That said, more solar farms are under construction, but what are the consequences of living near one?
- A solar energy field is a large-scale solar installation using solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to convert the sun’s energy into usable electricity. There are two types of solar technology: solar thermal and solar PV.
- Living next to a solar farm may have some downsides, including local habitat disruption, reduced farmland resulting in poor views, and potential electromagnetic waves from solar batteries.
- While no power source is perfect, solar power is known as the safest source of energy. Solar energy fields are quiet, reduce emissions leading to better air quality, provide the grid with sustainable electricity and offer residents lower energy prices.
The IEA outlined that solar-powered technology will dominate the energy sector.
The global solar industry is expanding yearly, contributing to a greener future. In 2018, it was worth $52.5 billion, and experts predict it will surge to $223.3 billion by 2026.
Green energy investments are vital to growing the solar power market and expanding its capacity. The more power comes from renewable sources like solar energy, the lower the demand for harmful resources. The energy sector is the crucial stepping stone to these climate goals between the Paris Agreement, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) plans to reach net-zero by 2050. In fact, in its report, the IEA outlined that solar-powered technology will dominate the energy sector.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels generate green energy on residential rooftops and large solar farms. Energy experts praise renewables for their affordable, clean electricity, but are there any drawbacks to living near one of these high-powered farms? This article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of living next to a solar energy field and if it will help or hinder the community.
What is a Solar Farm?
Solar farms are often used to power small rural communities, large cities or generate energy to sell on.
A solar energy field consists of many PV cells mounted into the ground. Typically, certified installers fit these arrays on farmland that the solar companies lease from local farmers. Solar farms are often used to power small rural communities, large cities or generate energy to sell on.
There are two types of solar technology that may make up your local solar farm.
Solar photovoltaic – A solar PV panel is what most people imagine when they consider solar power. These devices absorb light from the sun and convert it into usable electricity. The addition of a battery means the farm can store the replenishable energy for later use.
Solar thermal – Although it also uses the energy from the sun, solar thermal devices heat tubes of water directly, which can heat rooms and water for the home.
Drawbacks of Living Near a Solar Farm
The opposition claimed the glare from solar panels may disrupt drivers, and the rows of silicone panels ruin the lush landscape.
Although there are many benefits of using solar power, it’s wise to consider any potential downsides of living next to a solar energy field. One man in New York is well aware of the drawbacks of solar farms as neighbours criticized his solar energy field. The opposition claimed the glare from solar panels might disrupt drivers, and the rows of silicone panels ruin the lush landscape.
Local Habitat is Disrupted – Although solar power is known for its minimal environmental impact, solar farms are at risk of damaging the ground. Residential and commercial solar panels are often fitted on rooftops causing minimal disruptions to their surroundings. However, a solar energy field must be built on flat ground, typically farmland. Due to its size, it disrupts the land and local habitat, causing wildlife to move along. There are also some concerns that a solar energy field may increase the number of bird deaths. Researchers have suggested that the intense light reflections may contribute to this.
Potential Health Concerns from Living Near Electromagnetic Radiations – People are surrounded by electromagnetic fields (EMF) in everyday life, from home appliances, cell phones and electrical lines. However, it’s worth considering how solar farms contribute to this. While solar panels themselves are safe, solar battery equipment produces some electromagnetic waves. Extreme waves can harm human health, and people with hypersensitivity to EMF can become sick very quickly. If someone living near any electromagnetic waves starts to experience headaches and restlessness, it’s best to err on the side of caution and get checked by a doctor.
Improperly disposed of lithium-ion batteries is hazardous waste, but it’s important to note that the strength of electromagnetic waves decreases with distance. This means the perimeter of a solar farm will have very low levels. For some people, increasing their exposure to EMF isn’t a safe option and may harm people with hypersensitivity.
Property Value May Decrease – Buying a home comes with many considerations, including which area you wish to settle in. Alongside a safe neighbourhood, a breathtaking view is high on some buyers’ lists. However, living next to a solar farm may not be a top priority for some buyers; with a view of blue panels and potential health concerns, it may lower your property’s value. It’s difficult to say how much a neighbouring solar farm will affect property value, but unless you’re buying a retirement home, you may want to consider this.
In truth, there are some drawbacks to having a solar farm as your next-door neighbour, especially if you are hypersensitive to electromagnetic waves, which may harm your health.
The Benefits of Living Next to a Solar Energy Field
From technicians to manual workers, one farm may employ up to 500 people.
No power source is perfect, so there are some excellent reasons to live near a solar farm despite some potential drawbacks. In fact, Our World In Data rates solar power as the safest form of energy for a good reason, with almost no fatalities and very minimal emissions. Solar power farms are one way to generate large quantities of renewable power, but how can they benefit the community?
Reduced Energy Bills – If you find yourself living next to a solar energy field, your electricity bills will probably be lower. Research by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) declared that solar power was one of the cheapest energies to generate. Their calculations highlight the cost of solar energy to be $0.10 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), compared to fossil fuels which sell for $0.17 per kWh, explaining why solar-powered homes are cheaper to run.
In some cases, solar power companies may offer to cover the entire energy bill for some residents. Financial incentives aren’t a new offer, though; governments worldwide are offering residents and businesses financial savings to install a solar power system. For example, the Canadian government has the Canada Greener Homes Grant, which offers homeowners up to $5,000 to make their homes more environmentally friendly, including windows, insulation and solar energy systems.
Quieter surroundings – Solar panels have no moving parts, meaning they’re low maintenance and make for a very quiet neighbour. Unlike wind turbines that contain powerful motors, living next to a solar power farm will bring some peace for residents. Living in a relaxing and serene environment is definitely a benefit to the community!
Zero Power Interruptions – Solar energy comes from the sun, a natural, replenishable source. The sun rises and falls each day, making solar a very reliable form of power. Like the financial incentives, some solar companies will connect the surrounding residents for free, offering them a reliable and greener energy supply with less chance of a power cut.
Produces Clean Energy Which is Better for the Environment – One of the most significant advantages of solar energy is its low-emission status. Unlike solar, coal power plants severely pollute the air causing the local air quality to decline and trigger serious health problems. Thankfully, solar power produces no harmful pollutants that may damage air, water or soil quality.
The few emissions primarily come from manufacturing solar equipment, but these are far better than other power sources. In fact, solar farms reduce the dependence on fossil fuels, like coal, lowering global emissions. According to Our World in Data, solar emits approximately 5 tonnes of CO2 per gigawatt-hour, compared to coal which is 820 tonnes per gigawatt-hour GWh. Therefore, it’s easy to see why living next to a solar energy field will benefit the community with cleaner air, green energy and affordable electricity.
Improves Community Job Opportunities – Although solar panels are low maintenance, a solar energy field still requires several workers to keep it running. From technicians to manual workers, one farm may employ up to 500 people. Having a solar farm nearby opens up an abundance of job opportunities for the local communities. Interestingly, the Canadian clean energy market will have 160,000 new jobs by 2030. The renewable energy industry is providing jobs for thousands of people, fueling economic growth in greener ways.
As the world transitions away from fossil fuels towards clean energy, solar power will likely dominate energy production—making it an excellent green energy investment. That said, solar farms are likely to increase, but do you want to live next to one? If you are sensitive to electromagnetic waves, then it’s not such a good idea. However, solar energy fields benefit the community by providing jobs, clean energy, and lower electricity prices.
Solar power investments are vital to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, so backing your local solar farm may do wonders for the environment.
Suppose you want to support the development of solar energy further. In that case, it’s prime time to invest in solar stocks and the renewable energy market, as well as considering solar panels for your home.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does living next to a solar farm affect property value?
Some arguments suggest it affects property value because it takes away the serene views of farmland. However, living next to a solar farm also means lowered electricity bills, cleaner air, green energy, and more jobs for the community. Having a solar farm nearby is a great way to lower greenhouse gas emissions because it reduces the demand for fossil fuels. It’s difficult to say how much it will affect property prices, so it’s something to consider if you’ll be selling your home in the future.
Does living next to a solar farm affect electricity prices?
Living near a solar farm may reduce your electricity bills. Solar power is one of the cheapest ways to generate energy, which is reflected in the prices. Moreover, some solar companies offer nearby residents discounted energy rates or may even offer to pay for electricity bills.
Who benefits from solar energy fields?
Solar power farms benefit the entire community by supplying clean energy to the grid, financial incentives such as low energy prices, support for local farmers whose land they are leasing, and an increase in job opportunities. What’s more, solar farms offer some quiet to their residents because the panels do not have any noisy moving parts. Finally, by backing solar projects in your area, you are helping to reduce global emissions, slow the rate of climate change and ultimately improve human health.
How much land do solar farms require?
The average size of a solar energy field depends on the available space. Typically, the land has to be flat with minimal wetlands. The size of a solar farm also depends on how much land the farmers choose to lease to the solar companies. Many farmers choose only to rent a portion of their land and use the rest to farm. Many solar farms across Canada range from ten acres to hundreds of acres; they provide clean energy to the grid, lower prices, and benefit the planet and community.
What is the largest solar farm in Canada?
There are many solar farms across Canada, but the largest is the Claresholm solar project in Alberta, which has created over 350 full-time jobs. Although, it may not remain the largest for long. Another $700 million solar project is currently under construction, called Travers Solar. The site will consist of 1.3 million solar panels across 3300 acres of land and can power over 150,000 homes.