One more reason to move away from fossil fuels: A study just published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters suggests that air pollution has the potential to reduce solar output by as much as 17-25 percent in some regions.
“Atmospheric particulate matter (PM) has the potential to diminish solar energy production by direct and indirect radiative forcing as well as by being deposited on solar panel surfaces, thereby reducing solar energy transmittance to photovoltaics,” the authors state.
Energy production and emissions are also intertwined with health. The International Energy Agency has reported that 6.5 million deaths occur each year as a result of air pollution. “Energy production and use are by far the largest man-made sources of air pollutants,” says IEA.
The authors the solar production study conclude, “this work provides a compelling additional reason for policy makers to adopt emissions controls along with the enormous potential benefits to public health and suggests that policy making should include air quality–solar power connections within larger efforts to simultaneously consider public health, energy, and climate change to optimize human welfare in these interlinked sectors.”