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Resources for debunking common solar and wind myths

Posted on 10 June 2024 by Guest Author

This is a repost from a Yale Climate Connections article by SueEllen Campbell published on June 3, 2024. The articles listed can help you tell fact from fiction when it comes to solar and wind energy.

Some statements you hear about solar and wind energy are just plain false. Some are a little bit true but so unbalanced, incomplete, and out of context that they might as well be false. And some tap into genuine complexities. When the facts are complicated, nuanced, mutable, or otherwise hard to pin down, statements may mislead (both deliberately and accidentally) by oversimplification. 

The links below are primarily about the first two categories, that is, wholly or mostly false statements. 

Myths about wind and solar

No, wind turbines aren’t noisy.

No, wind turbines aren’t major bird killers. 

No, wind turbines don’t kill whales.

No, wind turbines don’t cause cancer.

Perhaps because rooftop solar panels are now so widespread, there are fewer myths about this kind of energy. Typically ignoring comparative contexts, they lean toward anxiety about large solar arrays and other large-scale effects. For instance:

Q: How destructive is mining for solar panel components? A: Significantly less destructive than mining for fossil fuels.

No, solar panels don’t cause cancer.

No, ordinary hail won’t destroy your solar panels. (Really big hail — more than two inches across — might.) 

No, solar farms aren’t destroying the best agricultural lands.

On waste from wind and solar power — compared to (much more, and more toxic) waste from fossil fuel power: 

Finally, a concise but comprehensive note on intermittency (What happens when there’s no wind and no sun?), a topic too big to cover here: “Three myths about renewable energy and the grid, debunked.” Amory B. Lovins and M. V. Ramana, Yale Environment 360.

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