Alternative Energy Source: Solar Power
Solar power has long been the most widely touted source of alternative energy and it is the one against which all others are judged. Unfortunately this has actually had the negative effect of discouraging development of other energy sources that could have reduced our dependence on fossil fuels and the effects of global warming. The problem is the belief that solar power is essentially free and has no environmental impact, neither of which is actually true. Unfortunately the belief that it is has resulted in anything that is not environmentally benign is quickly rejected as an energy source because it doesn't measure up to what people tend to believe solar power offers. This has led to a continued reliance on fossil fuels and the environmental impact that comes with it.
Solar power is power that is produced by the sun; the idea is that the sun's rays can be turned into electricity. The claim is that this is free energy and that there will be no impact on the environment. This is such accepted wisdom that there is remarkably little actually research on how using solar power on a large scale will affect the environment, in particular the climate. In order to come anywhere close to producing enough energy to meet our needs we are going to have to produce thousand of solar farms with acres of solar panels. The problem is that the weather is caused by the sun heating the earth's surface. Preventing this from happening on anything like the scale that would be required to meet our energy needs with solar power is going to have an impact on the weather. This is a serious issue that needs far more research than has been done so far.
There are other environmental issues regarding the use of solar power than need to be looked at as well. One issue is that in order to build the solar farms that are going to be required we are going to need large open spaces. Given that most of the places that it would currently make sense to put solar farms are already being used for agricultural purposes we are going to have to create new places for them. That will almost certainly mean cutting down trees with the serious environmental impact that comes with that. There is also the issue that some of the materials that are used in producing solar panels produce toxic waste that we need to find a way to dispose of.
Even if we ignore the environmental impact of solar power there are still massive practical problems to be overcome. Things like how are we going to produce electricity at night or on cloudy days. An energy source that can only be relied on when the weather conditions are just right is hardly going to be a viable alternative. This isn't to say that solar power doesn't have the potential to become an alternative energy source, just that a lot more research, is necessary before we declare it the solution to all of our problems.