My book Solar Dividends make a counter-intuitive argument: make solar electricity more expensive so sales of it can support everyone with a basic income. Here I will gradually post the top ten reasons why I think solar-generated electricity is worth a higher price.
#10 Does not pollute our water
Unlike fossil fuels, solar PV does not contribute to water pollution. PV panels are sealed in glass, so rainwater never comes in contact with the active material. The only potential for water pollution can come during manufacturing of the panels.
The semiconductor industry has proactively set its own water-quality standards through the SEMI® industry association, with member companies in North America, Europe, and Asia. Companies that adhere to the SEMI-PV3-0310 standard treat any water that is to be released.
In contrast, fossil fuel production regularly pollutes our water:
- Toxic fracking fluids from oil and gas drilling are leaking into drinking water aquifers. An EPA investigation of the Pavillion gas field in Wyoming found, “Overall, 17 of 19 drinking water wells sampled in January 2010 show detections of total petroleum hydrocarbons.”
- Offshore oil drilling routinely leaks 11 million gallons of oil into the world’s oceans every year, while oil transport tankers regularly leak another 44 million gallons. The Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010 released over 200 million gallons of crude oil.
- Coal mining using mountaintop-removal dumps the waste into valleys where it pollutes streams that flow into rivers. This mining method has been associated with a higher incidence of birth defects in the region where the mining takes place. Rates were significantly higher for six of seven types of birth defects studied.
- Coal ash slurry, the leftovers from burning coal, is typically laced with toxic heavy metals like mercury, selenium, arsenic, chromium, and cadminum. A dike failure in Tennessee in 2008 dumped over a billion gallons of toxic ash slurry into the Emory River and surrounding lands.