This page has information about Solar energy development — both industrial and residential. If you have questions about any of this, or have other material that should be included, or find any errors here, or would like to be on our email list, please email independent physicist John Droz. To keep current with what’s going on with related energy matters, please periodically check back here for updates.

Here is a quick Solar Primer… There are two general ways sunlight is converted into useful energy: passive and active. Passive refers to such actions as opening a window shade to let sunlight in to heat a room. Active uses mechanical devices to collect, store, convert, and distribute solar energy. This page will focus on Active conversions.

There are two main types of Active solar conversion: Photovoltaic and Thermal.

Thermal system is based on directly using the heat generated by sunlight. In a home this heat can be used to warm water for residential use. In a larger utility scale operation (Concentrated Solar Power: CSP), solar heat is concentrated and collected and then can be used to drive a conventional steam generator — which produces electricity.

A Photovoltaic (PV) System directly converts sunlight into electricity using a process known as the photovoltaic effect. This is based on using a feature of materials known as semi-conductors. PV can be used from small applications (powering a calculator) to commercial electricity production.

Most of our discussion below relates to industrial solar, i.e. an Active conversion of sunlight into electricity (via PV or Thermal). The last section discusses some concerns of residential solar (which is typically on home roofs).

Note 1: For a reasonable overview discussion see “Solar Energy Project Development Issues: Preliminary Considerations” (Practical Law Company). Additionally please review our list of 30+ legal and economic concerns for landowners signing solar leases. NC Cooperative Extension has some good observations on their two solar reports: Landowner Solar Leasing and Contract Issues Explained.  See American Planning Association’s answers to frequently asked questions on Solar energy.

Note 2: For additional research we strongly recommend that you closely review the 200± solar studies, reports, etc  extracted from our 2020 and 2021 Newsletter archives. There is some exceptionally worthwhile material there.

Note 3: Since this is ultimately a Public Relations matter, we strongly advise any community that is considering a solar project to have a public showing of the movie Dark WatersIt is a hard-hitting story about what chemicals like PFAS, etc. can do to a community. As explained below, solar panels can contain these carcinogenic compounds.

Note 4: See Model Solar Ordinance for commercial solar projects, which includes these Bullet Points. This was created with the perspective that local legislators have a legal obligation to protect the health, safety and welfare of local citizens, the local economy, and the local environment. Feel free to copy, paste and edit this model as necessary for your community. Although NY was used as a sample state, please email me if you’d like an editable Word version of the Model Solar Ordinance.

Note 5: Here is a good small scale model solar ordinance that addresses rooftop, etc. applications.

Note 6: NC residents should check out our North Carolina Solar Page which includes proposed local model solar ordinances, as well as solar-related NC laws, proposed legislation, pertinent agencies, etc.


Some Potential Solar Environmental Problems  —

GenX/PFAS chemicals leeching into groundwater is a major concern. Here are just a few sample links:

What are PFAS and Why are they a Problem?

PFAS: What Are the Health Effects?

PFAS chemicals in drinking water pose serious public health threat

EPA confirms GenX-related compounds used in solar panels

“PFAs in the Environment” identifies Solar Panels as a source

FluoroCouncil acknowledged solar panels have these chemicals

Solar panels could be a source of GenX and other perflourinated contaminants

GenX concerns cloud possible expansion of solar facility

VA Solar Facility is Turning a Local River Brown

Citizen’s Research: 14 Serious Ecological Impacts of Solar

Additional Toxic materials in solar panels

The high toxicity of solar waste

Solar Energy Development Environmental Considerations

Solar thermal plants can consume twice the water as fossil fuel power plants

Death by solar farms: 71 species of birds killed, ‘entire food chains’ disrupted

Solar Project Killing Birds Wholesale

Birds Torched by Solar Project Test

Solar Farm: 800 degree heat frying birds in mid air

Solar Property Value Impacts  —

Note: Compared to industrial wind energy, solar is a relatively newer technology, so there are fewer studies on all of its environmental and economic consequences to a host community. Here are some studies on a solar project’s impacts on nearby home values:

Study: Housing Values Decline within a Mile of Solar Arrays (2020)

Study: Solar Projects Drive Home Values Down (2020)

NC Appraisal of nearby homes after solar project (2013)


Other Solar Economic Realities  —

Solar is Our Worst Economic Option (Brookings)Expensive

Solar Is Way More Expensive Than Other Renewables

An Examination of the Economics and Practicality of Grid Scale Solar Power

Solar costs are huge compared to natural gas

Solar is 34x more expensive than gas

Solar is Much More Expensive than Nuclear

US Solar: A Cesspool of Waste and Corruption

The Solar Swindle

Merkel Snubs Global Warming And Dumps The Solar Industry

The Industrial Infrastructure of Solar Devices

The Energy Return of Solar PV

Big Solar’s Dark Side


Solar Subsidies & Handouts  —

Solar Chart


EIA Report: Subsidies Continue to Roll In For Solar
(See chart to the right…)

Big problem with solar in Japan, as musical chairs stops

Oregon DOJ launches investigations of tax credits for university solar projects

A Cloud Hangs over Solar Financing

Solar Performance  —

The Energy Return of Solar PV

Thermal Solar: Really Dumb

Solar Power Propaganda vs. the Real WorldSolar Panels

Why the Best Path to a Low-Carbon Future is Not Wind or Solar Power

10 Big Problems With Solar Energy

How Sustainable is PV Solar?

The Myth of Solar (& Wind) Capacity

Large Scale Grid Integration of Solar – Many Problems, Few Solutions

California PV Solar Farms – A Bitter Harvest!

The Efficiency of Solar Photovoltaics

Estimating Global Solar PV Load Factors

U.S. Fracking Has ‘Cut Carbon More Than The Whole World’s Wind And Solar’

Critique of Brookings Report: Wind and Solar Technologies Fail Subsidy

Poor Performance of World’s Largest Solar Facility

Solar Panel Degradation

Thermal Solar Energy — Some Technologies Really Are Dumb

Four Solar Case Studies

Five Fatal Flaws of Solar Energy

Are There Problems with Solar?

$2.2 Billion Solar Plant Suddenly Needs More — Gas!



Issues with Rooftop Solar  —

Solar Power in the US — Lessons Learned

Solar Leases Sales Pitches: Overate the benefits

Solar PV Subsidies: Criticism Mounts

PV Solar: A Grid Cancer

Net Metering 101

Net Metering Info & Newsletter (Edison Electric Institute)

West Virginia Enacts Net Metering Bill

How State Solar Policies Hurt America’s Poor

Scams, Fraud Still Flourish in Solar

Rooftop Solar Leases Scaring Buyers When Homeowners Sell