Research, Technology

Renewable energy sources threaten biodiversity

To combat global warmingit is essential that global emissions of greenhouse gases be reduced. The most promising way to reduce emissions is the transition to renewable energy sources. However, according to some experts, this energy is not as harmless to the environment as it is commonly believed. It endangers rare species of plants and animals, and can upset the balance in pristine desert ecosystems. For example, the author of Solar Energy, a professor of environmental studies at San Jose State University, argues that the transition to renewable energy is an attempt to solve one environmental problem at the expense of another. But why are green energy sources actually not as green as expected?

Renewable energy sources are not as environmentally friendly as people think

Why are lithium batteries dangerous?

Lithium is essential for the production of powerfulbatteries that help the world transition to electric vehicles. As a result, the demand for lithium is growing, and mining companies are striving to develop new deposits of it. The construction of new mines often involves the destruction of the landscape in areas of untouched nature.

Moreover, the increase in lithium productioncan lead to the complete extinction of some plant species. For example, Tim's buckwheat grows only in soils rich in lithium. This is an extremely rare plant that grows in the US in southwestern Nevada, just where one of the new lithium mines is planned to be built.

The increase in lithium production threatens the extinction of many plant and animal species

Tim's buckwheat grows on an area of ​​no more than 4hectare. According to experts, it can be destroyed within one day of bulldozer operation. In addition, lithium mining could also wipe out the Tekopa bird's beak annual plant, the tiny Kings River snail, a species of orchid, and more. The construction of a lithium mine in northwestern Nevada is also threatening the large sage grouse population, experts say.

It must be said that not only lithium mining causesharm to the environment. Batteries must be manufactured, and over time, also disposed of. This in turn also leads to carbon dioxide emissions. If batteries are not disposed of, the hazardous chemicals in them can seriously pollute soil and groundwater.

Solar panels could tip the balance in a fragile grassland ecosystem

How solar panels harm the environment

It would seem, what could be more harmless forenvironment than wind power or solar power. Recently, many countries have increased the production of energy using the sun and wind several times. At the same time, the cost of such energy has greatly decreased in recent years, as we talked about when comparing nuclear and renewable energy. For example, by 2050 the United States plans to completely switch to renewable energy sources.

However, some activists rightly argue that the extraction of renewable energy also endangers rare species and pristine desert ecosystems.

As is known, the area of ​​untouched meadows is the lasttime is shortened due to agriculture. Gradually, they turn into arable land, while biodiversity is also declining. Now, on that small area of ​​still untouched valleys, they want to place windmills and solar panels.

The need to recycle solar panels is another environmental pollution problem.

According to experts, untouched lands are not at alltolerate no human intervention. Otherwise, it will certainly affect the ecological balance. And there is strong evidence for this.

Last year, professor of ecology at the CaliforniaUniversity Rebecca Hernandez, along with her colleagues published a study in the journal Biological Conservation. It says conservation lands located between solar panels had far fewer pollinating insects than similar lands outside the solar panel site. In other words, the installation of solar panels can lead to the extinction of some species of plants and even animals, including the desert tortoise.

“We hear a lot about negativeThe post-construction impacts are greater than originally thought,” says Lee Walston, an environmentalist at the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory.

According to some experts, partially solveThe problem can be solved by installing solar panels in cities over parking lots and on rooftops. In addition, a study published a few years ago in the journal Nature Sustainability showed that solar panels could benefit agriculture, such as reducing drought stress on plants by shading the land.

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True, if the problem with installing panelscan be solved, the issue of their production and disposal is still open. The same applies to windmills for the production of wind energy. For this, as mentioned above, new production will be needed, which partly offset all the advantages of renewable energy sources.