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Myths And Facts About Solar Energy via Reader Supported News

Conservative media have denigrated solar energy by denying its sustainability, ignoring its successes, and arguing the U.S. should simply cede the solar market to China. Yet this booming industry has made great strides, and with the right policies can become a major source of our power.

MYTH: Solar Energy Is “Dirty”

Claiming that a “green future” would be “dirty,” the Taxpayer Protection Alliance’s Drew Johnson wrote in a Washington Examiner op-ed that “It turns out that it takes a lot of power (and a lot of carbon) to build solar panels and wind turbines.” [Washington Examiner, 7/24/12]
A Wall Street Journal editorial lent some credence to the claim that solar “really doesn’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions” because the carbon savings from solar projects on desert land could be “negat[ed]” by disturbing caliche deposits that release carbon dioxide. [Wall Street Journal, 9/4/12]
At the American Enterprise Institute’s blog, Kenneth Green promoted a press release claiming that “Solar cells do not offset greenhouse gases” because solar cell production emits gases that “make carbon dioxide (CO2) seem harmless.” [American Enterprise Institute, 1/23/13]

FACT: Solar Energy Can Greatly Reduce Pollution

Solar Energy Emits Much Fewer Greenhouse Gas Emissions Than Fossil Fuels. A special report by the International Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group III examined hundreds of estimates of greenhouse gas emissions (including the potent but rare gases that AEI referred to), and compiled the results of the most thorough studies. This chart of their results shows that renewable and nuclear energy have a substantially lower impact than fossil fuels over the lifespan of each power source:

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