Destiny S. Cratsenberg, Lindsey Christine Dewey, Emily M. Sobolewski, Megan Starr Tierney


Presentation: 9:00-10:15, Kennedy Union Ballroom



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Solar power is one of the largest sources of renewable energy, and the most widely used form of solar energy is solar panels. Due to misinformation, solar panels are causing controversy regarding their leaching ability and the changing in ability to contaminate through the years. This misinformation is because solar panels are constructed with chemicals like silica, phosphorous and boron that negatively affect the environment when in high levels. A large concern regarding solar panels is their greater leaching potential when a solar panel is cracked. The goal of our study was to determine if installed solar panels introduced chemicals into precipitation runoff. We chose two study sites; our first site was Danial Curran place which had tilting panels and was established in 2018. Our second site was the Marianist Environmental Education Center (MEEC) which had fixed panels and was established in 2023. At these sites we tested our hypothesis that despite where water is collected in the several different locations at the solar farms, there will be no noticeable difference between the chemistry of water collected. To test this hypothesis, we placed twenty water collectors in varying locations around each of the solar farms. These locations are in the buffer zone (no overall interaction), in the aisle (no direct interaction) and under the panels drip line. At Daniel Curran Place, we placed an additional seven water collectors due to the presence of cracked panels in the farm. After placement, we allowed for one week worth of rain to accumulate in the water collectors. In the lab the amount of ammonia, nitrate, silica, and phosphate were tested using Lamotte kits. From these tests, we found that there was no significant difference between the water chemistry levels from the different locations, especially of the cracked panels. The only difference was less phosphorous in the drip line of the solar panels, but it wasn’t statistically significant enough to consider. These findings allowed us to conclude that solar panels do not have any negative effects on the water chemistry from precipitation runoff. There may be future implications for nutrient availability to the plants below the drip line but concerning the leaching abilities solar panels do not cause any.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Course Project 202380 BIO 479L M1

Primary Advisor

Chelse M. Prather

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

The Effects of Solar Panels on Precipitation Runoff