Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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HomeGeneralTexas Storms Destroy Swaths of Solar Panels, Sparking Concern

Texas Storms Destroy Swaths of Solar Panels, Sparking Concern

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Solar Farm
Source: Pinterest

Solar energy is the fastest-growing new electricity source in America. The US Department of Energy says more than 10 million acres will be needed for solar development by 2050.

Their focus is on agricultural land, which has the potential to provide 27 terawatts of solar capacity or a quarter of the total  US solar capacity of 115TW. But while crops are especially sensitive to  Mother Nature’s whims, thousands of panels at a solar farm southwest of Houston were severely damaged by a hailstorm this month.

The Fighting Jays solar farm, located near Needville in Fort Bend County, spans 4,000 acres of land. The solar project has been producing electricity for Texas since 2022 and has generated 350 megawatts, powering about 62,000 homes.

The solar panel is designed to be quite resistant to environmental factors and can still generate electricity even when damaged. Studies from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory indicate that solar panels with cracks caused by hail will reduce energy output by less than 4%.

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However, the Department of Energy points out that hailstones the size of baseballs can have enough kinetic energy to completely shatter the glass in solar panels. Beginning  Friday and continuing through Saturday, 60 mph winds and quarter-sized hail hit the Belville area.

Hail ranges in size from dimes to golf balls and even baseballs. Following the storm, area residents are now concerned about the damage and environmental impact the damaged panels will have on the area.

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A neighbor expressed concerns to FOX 26 Houston about the impact on his family’s well water and his livestock. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, solar panels contain metals such as lead and cadmium, which, at high levels, are harmful to human health and the environment.

However, while some solar panels are considered hazardous waste, others are not, depending on the leachability of hazardous materials in the panels under the Natural Resources Conservation and Recovery Act.

 Twitter is concerned about who will bear the cost of the damaged panels and whether the incident will be covered by insurance.

ALSO READ: Texas Officials Express Concern About Solar Eclipse

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A representative for Copenhagen Agricultural Partners, one of two companies responsible for the solar farm, verified to Newsweek that the hail damaged some of the installation’s solar panels.

“We are currently assessing the storm’s impact on the project’s energy production. Meanwhile, the factory is operating safely but with reduced capacity,” they said.

A CIP spokesperson said: “The silicon-based panels do not contain cadmium telluride, and we have determined that there is no risk to the regional community or the surroundings.

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