We have to realize that we’re not alone on Earth and that our actions compete with those of the (other) animals, and while we’re seeking to make our lives more and more unnaturally comfortable, we destroy the very ecosystems that sustain our growth. Such can be the case with the light that solar panels reflect, as Michigan State University scientists say.
Today we’re not going to talk about the solar cells’ efficiency, or whatever achievements brilliant lab minds have daily. We are to talk about possible effects our technology has on living things.
So, what happens? Certain species of flies, such mayflies or caddis flies mistake the solar cells’ dark surfaces for water, deposit their eggs there and become easy targets for predators, thus failing to reproduce. The result could be a disastrous one for the local population, with cascading effects on predators and other species up the food chain (maybe including us).
“This research demonstrates that solar panels are a strong new source of polarized light pollution that creates ecological traps for many types of insect,” says Bruce Robertson, a research associate at MSU’s Kellogg Biological Station in Hickory Corners. “This is of significant conservation importance given the radical expansion in solar energy development and the strong negative impacts of ecological traps on animal populations.”
The scientists also have a solution to this issue: using nonpolarizing white grids for the solar cells. The white grids reduce the attractiveness of such false insect habitats by applying what biologists call “habitat fragmentation”.
The solution could reduce the solar cells’ efficiency with 1.8%, which is a lot, considering the fact that the research industry struggles for figures in the range of decimals. Latest technology solar cells have anti-glare treatments, fact which could help reduce this effect.