Solar farms, or solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants, are big installations that use solar panels to generate electricity for the grid. You can find them on rooftops, parking lots, and open fields.
Although solar farms can provide clean and renewable energy, some folks may need help living near them. In this article, we’ll look at the potential dangers of living near a solar farm and see how we can reduce those dangers.
Potential Dangers of Living Near a Solar Farm
1. Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR)
One concern people might have about living near a solar farm is EMR. EMR is energy emitted by certain devices, like cell phones and power lines.
Some studies have suggested that prolonged exposure to high levels of EMR could harm human health, but the evidence is inconclusive (World Health Organization, 2021).
Solar panels emit some EMR, but it’s usually well below the limits set by international safety standards (International Electrotechnical Commission, 2020).
Solar panels are usually mounted on poles at least five feet off the ground, so people aren’t close to them (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2021).
It’s unlikely that living near a solar farm would result in significant EMR exposure.
2. Impact on Property Values
Another potential concern is how a solar farm might affect property values. Some folks might worry that living near a solar farm would decrease the value of their property. However, research on this needs to be more clear.
A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that the presence of a solar farm had no significant impact on property values in rural areas (NREL, 2015).
But, another study found that properties within a mile of a solar farm in Massachusetts saw a 7% decrease in value compared to similar properties farther away (Hoen et al., 2018). Remember that this study was conducted in a specific area and may not apply elsewhere.
Overall, the impact of a solar farm on property values could vary depending on lots of factors, like the location and size of the solar farm and the local real estate market.
3. Noise Pollution
Along with EMR and property values, some folks may be concerned about noise pollution from a solar farm. Solar panels don’t make any noise when they’re operating.
However, the inverters that convert the electricity from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) can produce a low hum (NREL, 2021).
Inverters are usually located in a central spot within the solar farm, and the sound is usually not noticeable beyond the installation’s perimeter (NREL, 2021).
But, noise from inverters or other equipment at a solar farm could be a concern for some people living close by.
4. Environmental Impact
Finally, some people may be worried about the environmental impact of living near a solar farm. Solar farms can take up a lot of lands, which might disrupt natural habitats and ecosystem functions (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2021).
Plus, producing solar panels and other solar farm components can have a carbon footprint (BNEF, 2020). But, solar farms can offset this carbon footprint over their lifespan by generating clean, renewable energy (BNEF, 2020).
Solar farms can also be designed and operated to minimize their environmental impact by using native plant species for landscaping and incorporating wildlife habitats (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2021).
Mitigating the Potential Dangers of Living Near a Solar Farm
We can mitigate the potential dangers of living near a solar farm in several ways.
1. Regulations and Safety Standards
Solar farms are regulated to keep people and the environment safe. For example, in the U.S., solar farms have to follow guidelines from the National Electrical Code (NEC) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2021).
The NEC sets standards for installing and running solar panels and other electrical equipment. NEPA requires an assessment of the potential environmental impacts of a solar farm before it can be built (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2021).
These rules ensure that solar farms are safe and don’t mess up the surrounding area.
2. Property Value Protection
Second, property owners can take steps to protect the value of their property when living near a solar farm.
One option is to seek out information about the solar farm, such as its size, location, and operating hours, and to consider the potential impact on property values before deciding to buy or rent a property near the installation.
Property owners can also contact the solar farm operator to discuss any concerns about the installation. It is also a good idea to keep track of property values in the area over time, as this can help to identify any potential impacts from the solar farm.
3. Noise-Reduction Technology
Third, technological advances are helping to reduce the potential for noise pollution from solar farms. For example, newer inverters are designed to be quieter than older models (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2021).
Additionally, we can use sound barriers or other noise-reducing measures to mitigate the impact of noise from solar farms (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2021).
4. Sustainable Practices
Finally, solar farm operators can adopt sustainable practices to minimize their environmental impact. This may include using native plant species for landscaping, incorporating wildlife habitats, and limiting pesticides and other chemicals (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2021).
Additionally, solar farms can offset their carbon footprint by generating clean, renewable energy (BNEF, 2020).
In conclusion, living near a solar farm can have potential dangers, like EMR and noise pollution, and it could impact property values. But we can reduce these dangers through good regulations, technology, and sustainable practices.
Solar farms are regulated to keep people and the environment safe. Property owners can take steps to protect their property values, and technology is helping reduce noise pollution. Solar farm operators can also use sustainable practices to minimize their environmental impact.
Living near a solar farm can be a safe and positive experience, especially when we address these potential dangers.