A green environment is essential for a healthy life. There is a close relationship connecting sustainability, development, health and the environment, which is very well-known and talked about today. With the increasing levels of pollution and environmental degradation worldwide, companies are trying to address this problem by using clean energy, which is strongly considered one of the most important standards for long-term environmental protection.

The world has long consumed polluting industrial resources that negatively affected the air quality until the idea of utilizing new and renewable energy sources started to emerge as a way of increasing productivity on the one hand while preserving the environment on the other. Recently, we’ve witnessed a significant adoption of solar energy to reduce air pollution. However, this energy requires a lot of technologies and materials to manufacture, including metals and glass. Therefore, solar energy systems may unwittingly be more harmful to the environment, making us think long and hard about post-use stages and how best to dispose of them — not an easy task.

Solar energy promises a better climate in theory, but the reality can differ greatly. In recent years, the number of solar energy installations has increased to the point where some predict they could completely replace electric power if the current trends continue. Despite the promises of solar energy to better preserve the environment and support a greener future, doubts remain about whether this energy is truly beneficial or if negative environmental impacts, such as solar panel waste, will dampen this enthusiasm. Solar panels may be further from being environmentally friendly than we think, as they are composed of layers of silicon, aluminum and glass — hazardous materials that can comprise up to 80% of the panel's weight.

In addition, creating solar panels often requires the use of harmful chemicals to enhance their ability to absorb electromagnetic heat from the sun. According to reports, recycling these panels can be difficult, as it requires a lot of energy to extract the metals from them. Indeed, there may not even be the necessary facilities to carry out this process, and the costs can be prohibitive as well.

The estimated lifespan of solar panels ranges from 20 to 30 years, but upon careful examination, some may reach the end of their usefulness much earlier. Furthermore, toxic materials can leak from solar panels and seep into groundwater, posing even greater risks to the environment and public health. Studies have revealed the impact of these materials on plants, including the formation of carcinogens.

As the need for alternative energy sources grows (without a full understanding of their limitations), the number of qualified recycling facilities declines, and the solid waste crisis worsens. In this dark context, around 80 million tons of solar energy waste are predicted to accumulate by 2050.

Despite these challenges, the market value of the clean energy industry is expected to reach around $650 billion annually by 2030, based on commitments and collaborations by countries to support green initiatives and environmental preservation. In exchange, the number of end-of-life solar panels is set to increase, with the United States expected to have the second-largest number of these panels in the world (estimated at around 10 million tons). Additionally, clean energy manufacturing jobs will double from the current 6 million to 14 million by 2030, despite the risks associated with this energy production.

Additionally, amid global crises, the prices of electric batteries and solar panels rose by 10% in 2022 as the prices of basic materials used in their production also inflated. Countries are competing over renewable and clean energy plans and projects, but some will be costly for the state treasury. Most governments are working to integrate climate and industry policies.

Alas, renewable energy projects are expanding. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for one, has signed an agreement aimed at generating around 50% of its electricity from clean sources by 2030 and establishing the largest solar energy plant in the Middle East and Africa. The project is expected to start operating by 2025.

The Dark Side of Lithium Batteries: An Environmental Time Bomb?

The many uses of lithium batteries vary widely, and the chemical materials they are made of are diverse. but eventually, they will all end up being discarded. Batteries are divided into two categories: batteries that are used once (and are relatively safe to recycle) and batteries that can be used multiple times for hundreds of charging cycles but are difficult to recycle. Rechargeable batteries are used in cars, electronic devices, computers and planes. However, they contain hazardous metals, making recycling necessary.

Experts classify all types of batteries as hazardous materials that harm the environment in one way or another, and recycling them is the best option for ensuring their safest usage.

While industry and technology companies strive to develop their products to comply with green environmental conditions and reduce carbon emissions, the largely overlooked transportation sector may be most responsible for this negative impact. According to predictions, the transport sector could account for as much as 50% of total carbon emissions by 2050, compared to about 30% today. The solution lies in adopting electricity in land transport to reduce a large proportion of carbon emissions to around 72% by 2050.

The world considers environmental issues one of the most important issues that must be addressed now, as well as the transition to a green economy, sustainability and development to protect humans and ensure a greener future for future generations.

Renewable energy projects are in line with the future visions of governments to protect the environment. And both large and small ecological systems can thankfully be repaired with the promotion of government initiatives with development agencies and local companies.

However, the most important thing remains knowing the dark side of these new and renewable resources and energies and what "tricks" they hold for users. The fundamental pillars of economic, environmental and social prosperity remain linked to creating a balance between productivity, emissions and development. Just as we must benefit from renewable energy in all its forms, we must also work on developing the skills capable of controlling these resources to know how to deal with expired resources and not waste them.

Will land, sea, and air transport companies be able to provide suitable batteries that guarantee their operation and reduce carbon emissions at the same time? Or will preserving the climate and reducing pollution remain an issue that will be difficult to fully achieve in the short term?

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