Some disadvantages of solar energy are:

- Solar energy technologies require use of materials such as metals and glass that require energy to make.

- Some toxic materials such as heavy metals and chemicals are used to make the photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Additionally, some solar thermal systems use potentially hazardous fluids to transfer heat. These chemicals must be handled carefully to avoid contamination of the environment.

- PV panels require special handling when they are no longer of use. The recycling of the materials used in PV is an area of interest for the DOE.

- Large solar power plants can have an impact on the surrounding environment. Clearing land for construction and the placement of the power plant may have long-term effects on the habitats of native plants and animals.

- Some solar power plants may require water for cleaning solar collectors and concentrators or for cooling turbine generators. Using large volumes of ground water or surface water in some arid locations may affect the ecosystems that depend on these water resources.

- In addition, the beam of concentrated sunlight a solar power tower creates can kill birds and insects that fly into the beam.[1]

Updated by Jennifer Ostromecki, November 2023