Texas solar farm destroyed by hail storm, igniting concerns over ‘green’ energy sustainability

Mar 28, 2024 | Political News

A massive hailstorm in southeastern Texas destroyed a solar farm earlier this month, which has garnered dialogue about “green” alternatives and whether or not solar panels are a sustainable source of energy.

Concerns about the broken panels leaking harsh chemicals have also come into play.

Fox News reports that the storm occurred on March 15 and shattered hundreds of panels at Fighting Jays Solar farm in Fort Bend County. The weather incident also destroyed homes, businesses, and property in the area.

Among the greatest causes of concern is the possibility that the broken solar panels could be leaking harmful chemicals such as cadmium and telluride, which pose a serious risk to human health.

Needville Mayor Chad Nesvadba told Fox News that the incident is under investigation by the Fort Bend County Environmental Health Department and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has been contacted to investigate potential chemical contamination.

Nick Kaminski, a resident of Needville, told KRIV-TV that he is concerned about the hail damage causing “highly toxic chemicals” to leak “into our water tables.”

Emily Matthews, a spokesperson for Texas Congressman Troy Nehls (R), explained that this incident is a reminder that there needs to be an “all-of-the-above approach to energy instead of relying solely on climate-friendly alternatives.

“As far as solar farms being damaged where hail and tornadoes are common, those companies knowingly run the risk of building solar panel farms in these areas,” said Matthews to Fox News. “Events like this underscore the importance of having an all-of-the-above energy approach to meet our energy needs and showcase how our country cannot solely rely on or fully transition to renewable energy sources like this.”

Despite the concerns, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, which is the parent company of AP Solar Holdings, asserted that the incident has posed no risk to the community.

“On March 15th, a hailstorm caused solar panel damage to Fighting Jays Solar, a 350 MW project located in Fort Bend County, Texas. We are currently assessing the extent of the impact of the storm on the generation of the project, while the plant continues to safely operate at a reduced capacity,” the group told the outlet.

“The silicon-based panels contain no cadmium telluride and we have identified no risk to the local community or the environment,” they added.

The solar farm's destruction occurs at a time when the nation is essentially striving to transition from fossil fuel power to green energy alternatives. However, these strategies have faced criticism from experts who caution against the dependence of these energy sources based on specific weather conditions.