Are cows dying from solar panels installed on farms?
And, if yes, how do solar panels affect the life of other animals and humans?
There have been claims that renewable energy sources can potentially threaten the environment and animals, particularly wind turbines and solar systems.
What Are Alternative Energy Sources?
When we speak of energy and the generation of electricity, we usually speak of pollution, environmental degradation and the impact fossil fuels that we use today have on our lives.
Alternative energy sources are renewable and inexhaustible.
These are hydrogen gas, tidal energy, biomass energy, geothermal power, natural gas, biofuels, wave energy, and, particularly, wind turbines and solar panels.
Both wind turbines and solar panels have magnificent benefits.
Firstly, both wind turbines and solar panels rely on abundant natural sources of energy that are available to everyone.
They are renewable, have diverse applications, and don’t cause pollution to the environment.
However, the biggest downsides of these two alternative energy sources are that they require a lot of space and that their efficiency depends on weather conditions.
While wind turbines produce some noise (they have revolving rotor blades that create sound when they encounter air turbulence), solar panels are silent.
Nonetheless, many people believe that these alternative sources of energy create pollution.
Moreover, some have linked both wind turbines and solar panels to the death of cows.
What Is the Foundation of Claims that Cows Die from Solar Panels?
The foundation of the claim that (wind turbines and) solar panels are responsible for the death of cows comes from French farmers.
Wind turbines and solar panels, as French farmers stated in 2019, create a lot of electricity that flows into the ground causing cows to lose weight or die.
While mysterious cattle deaths remain unsolved, a French farmer in Cotes-d’Armor, Brittany, filed a lawsuit against an unnamed solar company.
French farmers remain concerned and emphasize that mysterious cattle deaths began with the installation of a new batch of photovoltaic solar panels.
It can’t be denied that solar panels have some disadvantages such as stray voltage, solar energy emission risks, disposal of solar waste, and degradation.
In this article, we will explore stray voltage, solar energy emissions, solar panels waste disposal, and solar power benefits.
In addition, the article covers solar panel installation including steps involved in that process and the best practices to adopt in maintaining solar panels.
While using farm equipment, leakage occurs at times.
Current leakage or broken connections between the earth and the electrical circuit causes an unwanted electrical phenomenon called stray voltage.
Stray voltage is a minor voltage (<10V) measuring between 2 points
This is at the same time conducted through an animal.
Because of the increase in electrical usage and humidity, corrosiveness in silage acids, manure, and urine, and neutral to earth voltage, a dairy barn is not the ideal environment for electrical wiring and equipment.
Stray voltage has the potential of producing a low current, which flows through farm animals
This leakage is a possible reason for poor production in cows or dairy farming.
Veterinarians have reported that besides causing a decline in dairy cattle production, the stray voltage brings about some health problems.
It makes a cow develop behavioral changes that include the following:
- Cows being reluctant to enter into the milking parlor
- Reluctance to eat, feed or drink water
- Nervousness in cows while they’re in milking stalls
- Poor milk production
- Incomplete or uneven milk out
Cows sense voltages by about a tenth of the level that human beings do.
Several aspects including poor grounding conditions, faulty wiring, and damaged electrical devices alter stray voltage levels on and off your farm.
Management of Stray Voltage
There are electrical tests performed by trained people to determine whether there is a neutral-to-earth voltage on the farm.
If it’s impossible to eliminate the stray voltage, it should be reduced to minimize its effect on animals.
One should call a trained person to check the wiring if he/she suspects that there is a stray voltage.
Solar Energy Emission Risks
There are concerns about the effects of the rise of solar activity and their thermal balance in specific areas.
The land absorbs more energy which is later released back to space.
This increased thermal movement makes the survival of animals and plants very difficult in an artificially changed environment.
Production of Dangerous Gasses During Manufacture
But it’s also clear that there is the production of some dangerous gas emissions during the manufacturing process.
This suggests that toxic chemicals are used in the solar production process.
The first material used in manufacturing is silicon, gotten from quartz.
To get the desired silicon from quartz, the quartz should be mined first and then heated.
During heating, quartz emits carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the air.
These gases are very toxic to animals and human beings.
Silicon tetrachloride is another toxic chemical released during the manufacturing of silicon.
Mishandling this chemical causes burns on the skin.
It’s also a dangerous air pollutant that leads to increased lung diseases.
Besides, silicon tetrachloride releases hydrochloric acid when exposed to water.
This acid is dangerous to both humans and the environment.
Release of Hazardous Chemicals During Installation
During installation, other substances present in thin-film panels release chemicals like copper indium selenide and cadmium telluride.
Responsible manufacturers of solar systems always make sure that there is the proper handling of emitted chemicals during the manufacturing process to avoid dumping hazardous chemicals into the environment.
Solar systems do not pose any risk to either humans or animals.
However, their manufacturing process does.
Disposal of Solar Panel Waste
The waste from solar boards that are piling up in the world is posing a great threat to the environment.
Clean energy is becoming unclean after all.
A study by Environmental Progress (EP) warned that poisonous waste emanating from solar systems is now becoming a threat to the environment globally.
As compared to other nuclear powers, solar systems produce 300 more deadly wastes.
This deadly waste has dangerous elements such as cadmium, lead, and chromium, which if not disposed of well, pose danger to the animals and the environment.
Environmental activists argue that nuclear waste is well monitored, controlled, and disposed of, unlike solar energy, which lacks such measures.
Some developing countries burns used solar systems materials thinking it’s a safe method of disposal.
However, when burning the wastes, poisonous fumes with teratogens and carcinogens are released.
These chemicals pose a great threat to animals, human beings, and the environment.
Chemicals with teratogens cause birth defects not only to animals but also to human beings.
In particular, carcinogenic chemicals are hazardous.
Other countries have tried recycling the materials including seeking ways to dispose of these toxic materials.
However, solar panels are not only made using plastics and glasses, but also some materials that make it hard to recycle and disassemble.
To produce huge volumes of solar energy requires a large piece of land.
Solar panels mounted on roofs are mostly used to serve households including domestic needs.
Production of massive solar energy is realized by mounting panels on the ground.
Large-scale photovoltaic solar panels occupy huge parcels of land.
Eventually, this leads to environmental degradation.
Besides, there is a negative impact of these panels on the fauna and flora, including all the animals on farms.
One of the ways this energy production method affects land is by inhibiting vegetation growth.
This has a direct effect on crop and livestock farming.
Do Benefits of Solar Panels Surpass Their Negative Effects?
Climate change is one of the huge threats facing humans and natural systems as well.
A significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions originate from energy production that is generated through the burning of fossil fuels.
These include coal, refined petroleum, and natural gases.
Although there are some reasons as to why renewable energy is bad, global energy consumption is not lessening soon.
Thus, renewable energy generation has been adopted as the low-carbon alternative to the restraining of greenhouse gas emissions.
There are several kinds of renewable energy including, wind, geothermal, and solar.
Solar systems generate power with no fuel costs, air pollution, dangers of fuel cost spikes.
They help nations move toward cleaner, dependable, and cost-effective energy sources.
Small-scale sun-based photovoltaic (PV) systems, ordinarily fixed on housetops, account for a significant number of solar installations.
The large-scale PV systems, however, generate a lot of energy.
Given the huge amount of available sunshine across the world, photovoltaic solar panels have the potential to produce a lot of power that is both eco-friendly and sustainable.
Solar Energy Production
There are immense benefits of using direct solar energy.
Do you know the process of generating solar energy?
Photovoltaic solar panels convert sunlight into energy.
The process of getting energy from sunlight begins with solar panel installation.
These panels are made from polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon that is housed in a framed metal panel with a glass casing.
When the thin silicon layer on top of the solar panel is exposed to the sun, it hits electrons off the silicon atoms.
Since electrons are negatively charged, they get attracted to one side of a silicon cell.
As a result, the electric current is generated and tapped by the solar panel wiring.
Different panels generate different rates of electricity based on their quality and efficiency.
High-quality panels, which produce high electricity rates, cost higher than normal, simple panels.
Solar Panel Maintenance
After installing your solar panels, take the time to learn the best ways to sustain them.
Since solar installations are not made using moving parts, their maintenance is minimal.
When you have that know-how, you will not spend much on maintaining your solar panels after paying the installation charges.
According to solar panel experts, you should check your panels a couple of times every year.
In doing so, you will spot faults early and remove layers of dust on top of your panels.
Solar panels should stay clean without anything blocking them from absorbing the sun’s rays productively.
Always consult your panel manufacturer before you undertake any form of cleaning.
Some producers cancel the warranty when they discover you cleaned the panel by yourself.
But if you choose to do general cleaning, use a typical hose to wash the front side of the panel.
The best time to do this is either at daybreak or night.
It’s worth noting that you will harm them if you splash cold water while they’re still hot.
If your solar panels are extremely grimy, clean them with a watery sponge or contract a trustworthy cleaning firm.
Also, it’s always appropriate to have the installer of your solar panels assess them every 4 to 6 years.
This checkup is meant to identify any signs of any malfunction that needs to be fixed.
Solar energy generation and the maintenance of solar panels do not have any negative impacts on cows and all the animals on farms.
What Are the Benefits of Photovoltaic Solar Panels?
The benefits of solar energy that prove their safety to cows are:
You Can Install Solar Systems on Under-utilized Land
You might keep on asking why sunlight-based power.
With the expanding need for solar energy, it has gotten easily accessible to the greater part of the world.
Across all nations, there are huge parcels of lands that are idle.
With solar energy, it’s possible to use these lands.
We can make them productive
Solar power gives a wellspring of capacity to everybody including dairy farmers.
Moreover, we don’t have to use valuable land that is better off for other purposes such as crop and livestock farming.
It’s common knowledge that solar farm panels are used to generate huge volumes of power from the sun.
Such a highlight demonstrates how used land becomes resourceful in solar energy generation.
Solar Energy Reduces Pollution
We need vitality to live our day-to-day lives.
However, we likewise need the energy to help those less lucky.
Individuals throughout the world are utilizing sun-powered energy.
They do this to cope with blackouts brought about by storms and other catastrophic events that destroy property.
Events like floods, rapidly spreading fires, tropical storms, rising ocean levels, and hunger are by-products of the destruction of the environment around the globe.
The environmental cost related to climate change is increasing rapidly.
Not to mention the rising social insurance costs, property destruction, and escalation of food prices.
These are just to mention a few.
Wide-scale use of solar power including other types of renewable energy is contributing effectively in addressing the negative economic effects of burning fossil fuels.
Good for the Environment
Solar energy is not just one of the greenest, but also the cleanest source of power.
It reduces carbon footprint by a big margin compared to other sources of energy.
Research has shown that there’s nothing about solar power that causes pollution to mother nature.
Solar energy does not release greenhouse gases.
This makes it very environment-friendly.
However, some people are still in doubt about the benefits of solar energy.
The majority of farmers in the developed world have embraced solar technology in their farming.
Aside from the fact that solar panels are easy to install, they’re self-supporting.
There are some claims from some farmers that solar panels are killing their cows.
However, veterinarians have concluded that cows lose weight or even die due to the production of electricity that flows into the ground.
However, the proper installation of solar panels can prevent these problems.
It’s always good to let a trained person do the wiring to avoid cases of current leakage that pose danger to animals.
If not addressed well, it results in animal death.
Aids Farm Work
Despite these claims, farmers continue to install solar panels at home to help them in their dairy farming.
They use electrified milking equipment to make milking work easier and quicker.
Some trained people have proven through research that solar panels increase pasture production even without having to do irrigation.
Pastures flourish under the shade of solar panels due to changes in humidity and moisture.
One of the aspects that make solar energy production very friendly to humans, all the animals, and the environment is that there is the absence of noise pollution during its production.
Dairy cattle are affected by the noise.
This results in behavior changes and low milk production.
Compared to other electricity sources, solar power has less waste and does not need regular maintenance.
It has a longer life too.
Most of the farmers believe that solar panels are designed in a way that makes them withstand the effects of the environment during extreme changes in weather situations.
In as much as there are also disadvantages of using solar panels, farmers argue that the benefits are more than the drawbacks.
Offer Energy Security
The lessening in the cost of solar panels is an example of why there should be an expansion in the utilization of sun-based sources of power.
Conventional power depends intensely on non-renewable energy sources such as coal and gaseous petrol.
In addition to the fact that they’re unfriendly to the environment, they’re generally scarce across the globe.
This leads to an unpredictable market, where the costs of energy keep on changing.
Solar electricity boosts your electricity independence!
For instance, when you invest in a 4 kW solar panel, which is the typical size for domestic use, you completely protect yourself from unpredictable changes in utility prices.
Now you can enjoy cheap power all day long.
Solar energy never experiences any increase in rates, and one is guaranteed energy security.
Once you get a solar panel installed on your roof, you technically acquire energy independence status.
Solar batteries help to store energy that is used at night or for other purposes.
Technology related to solar has evolved so much over the years that it effectively serves your livestock energy needs.
Anyone Can Harvest Solar Energy
Solar panels are very easy to install.
Homeowners install them on their roofs for domestic purposes.
Large-scale energy producers usually mount them on the ground, where there is more space.
The advantage of solar panels is that they’re installed in any place that is accessible to humans including remote areas such as deserts.
Contrary to other energy sources, solar energy is not limited to locations.
Consequently, most farmers perceive solar power as the best option for them.
They install these panels even in their farms to help them work efficiently.
How to Install Solar Panels?
However, the following steps should be considered during the solar panel installation:
- Ensure that the roof where the solar panels are mounted is strong enough to hold the weight of the panels.
- Make sure that the roof has enough space to fit the solar panel being mounted and any other additional panels in the future. During this stage, it’s also necessary to examine the direction where the sun is rising from, and make sure that the panels are facing that direction to make sure the greatest exposure. Remove all shades around the solar panel to make sure that it does not stop functioning.
- Mount rails if the roof is flat or erect brackets if you have a sloping roof. The bracket standoffs should not only be secured to the sheathing, but also the home trusses. The instructions that come with the rails and brackets must be followed, just to ensure that the manufacturer’s recommendations have been followed as well.
- Host the solar panels on the roof by laying and fastening them on the mounting rails or the installed brackets. This must be done carefully to prevent the solar panels from sliding off.
- When the solar panels are completely installed and secured, the next thing is to connect them in a way that will allow them to produce power. You should make sure that your wires are not only properly insulated but also waterproof. Prevent shock by always connecting a ground wire that runs from the mounting hardware to the ground. This must be done during the installation process.
- After aligning your panels and connecting them properly, run a conduit below the solar panels, through into a junction box, down to your house’s side, and then to the first photovoltaic element in the panel system. Solar power installation is required to use “wiring” that includes 3 wires: a ground wire, positive, and negative. None of these wires should get into contact with the roof. Install a conduit over all the wires originating from the panels for protection from the outside elements.
- At this point, set up the photovoltaic modules including your inverter guided by the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure that the area is well-ventilated and dry. Ascertaining too that the space is free from extreme cold or hot temperatures.
- Next, run power from the inverter to your AC breaker panel and other components.
If you’re still contemplating whether or not to install solar panels, check these 10 reasons to use solar panels.
Solar panels do not kill cows.
While there have been claims that they endanger all the animals on farms, they remain unproven.
The evidence provided by this article is that the advantages of solar panels surpass the downside.
Based on this evidence, we support that solar panels are not only safe for humans, but also for domestic animals including cows.
If you have anything you’d like to add to the answer to, “Are cows dying from solar panels?” feel free to let us know in the comments below.