Environmental impacts of solar energy systems: A review

Malek Kamal Hussien Rabaia, Mohammad Ali Abdelkareem*, Enas Taha Sayed, Khaled Elsaid, Kyu Jung Chae, Tabbi Wilberforce, A. G. Olabi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The annual increases in global energy consumption, along with its environmental issues and concerns, are playing significant roles in the massive sustainable and renewable global transmission of energy. Solar energy systems have been grabbing most attention among all the other renewable energy systems throughout the last decade. However, even renewable energies can have some adverse environmental repercussions; therefore, further attention and proper precautional procedures should be given. This paper discusses in detail the environmental impacts of several commercial and emerging solar energy systems at both small- and utility-scales. The study expands to some of the related advances, as well as some of the essential elements in their systems. The approach follows all the stages, starting with the designs, then throughout their manufacturing, materials, construction or installation phases, and over operation lifetime and decommissioning. Specific solutions for most systems such as waste minimization and recycling are discussed, alongside with some technically and ecologically favorable recommendations for mitigating the impacts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number141989
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date29 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the University of Sharjah , Project No. 19020406129 .


  • Climate change
  • Emerging solar PV technologies
  • Environmental impacts
  • Life-cycle assessments
  • Solar PV systems
  • Solar thermal systems


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