Are solar panels safe?

Swiftwater Solar and most other utility-scale projects use panels with no harmful chemicals. There is one type of solar panel that may contain some harmful materials. Depending on the type of panel being used, these materials can include cadmium telluride, copper indium selenide, sulfur hexafluoride, and silicon tetrachloride. Cadmium telluride is only used in thin-film solar modules; Swiftwater will not be using this type of panel.

It is important to note that no matter the panel type, the harmful substances named above are fully contained and unreactive in the solar panels. Because they are embedded into the panels during manufacturing, there is simply no physical mechanism or chemical reaction that would allow these materials to escape the solar panels during operation.

Solar panels have not been linked to any adverse human health issues. On the contrary, they have proved beneficial to human health by displacing the air pollution caused by fossil fuel electric generation, conserving clean water, and reducing the harmful impacts of climate change.

The North Carolina Clean Energy Center at North Carolina State University conducted an exhaustive study examining the fire, safety, and public health risks of utility-scale solar energy projects, including concerns regarding toxicity, electromagnetic fields, and electric shock potential. For each of these concerns, the study concluded that “the negative health and safety impacts of utility-scale PV development were shown to be negligible, while the public health and safety benefits of installing these facilities are significant and far outweigh any negative impacts.”