US legal experts dispel 14 false claims about solar, wind, electric vehicles


From pv magazine USA

At first, many people ignored what solar power could do  – solar was seen as a cool space science experiment. Then when solar started to grow and the technology matured, they chuckled at the small volume being installed versus the massive volumes of coal, gas and oil that were being extracted daily.

Now solar power, and more recently, energy storage, are being installed more than any source of energy ever, and the opposition sometimes takes the form of spreading misinformation from centralized, fossil-funded sources to affect the local acceptability of solar. And it has had an impact.

The Sabin Center for Climate Change at Columbia Law School collected 14 false solar power claims in its document, “Rebutting 33 False Claims About Solar, Wind, and Electric Vehicles.” The law school previously launched the Renewable Energy Legal Defense Initiative in 2019, and published discussions of legislation that might slow renewable energy deployment.

The list of false solar claims were:

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  1. Electromagnetic fields from solar farms are harmful to human health.
  2. Toxic heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium, leach out from solar panels and pose a threat to human health.
  3. Solar panels generate too much waste and will overwhelm our landfills.
  4. Clearing trees for solar panels negates any climate change benefits.
  5. Solar energy is worse for the climate than burning fossil fuels.
  6. Solar projects harm biodiversity.
  7. Solar projects will reduce agricultural production, hurting farmers and rural communities.
  8. Solar development will destroy US jobs.
  9. Reliance on solar will make the United States dependent on China and other countries.
  10. Utility-scale solar farms destroy the value of nearby homes.
  11. Solar energy is more expensive than fossil fuels and completely dependent on subsidies.
  12. Solar panels don’t work in cold or cloudy climates.
  13. Solar energy is unreliable and requires 100% fossil fuel backup.
  14. We do not have sufficient mineral resources for large-scale solar development.

While solar power is the most popular source of electricity in the United States, there are nuances within this popularity. Rooftop solar is the most popular, but solar is getting pushback as it grows beyond 50 acres. And while renewable and clean energy itself are also very popular, there are fossil-fuel industry funded disinformation campaigns that can significantly alter popular opinion.

The report from the Sabin Center does not examine the origins of the false claims, nor the motivations of those who disseminate them. Each of the fourteen claims were responded to individually, creating fully developed responses that sometimes repeat information in other rebuttals.

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