Highlights of Report: “Rebutting 33 False Claims About Solar, Wind, and Electric Vehicles” Research Summary

By Matthew Eisenson and Jacob Elkin

A solar installation can complement nearby wind turbines. (Credit: pidjoe)

Over the last few years, it has become very common for detractors of utility-scale solar to create websites and Facebook groups to organize opposition to local projects. Often, these online resources are rife with misinformation. For example, one website called No To Solar, created by a Michigan group that seeks to ban the use of agricultural land for solar development, makes the following claims, among others:1

“Solar panels emit a substantial amount of heat which negatively affects the environment. It is likely that solar farms are making climate change worse.”

“The EMF (electromagnetic field) from solar farms poses serious health risks…”

“Solar farms depend entirely on subsidies from your hard earned money. When the subsidies are gone, the solar farms are abandoned!”

None of these claims has any basis in scientific or economic reality. Switching from fossil fuels to solar energy radically reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps to mitigate climate change. The electromagnetic fields from solar farms are no more powerful than those of standard household appliances. And solar farms, which are one of the cheapest forms of energy, even without subsidies, are highly unlikely to be abandoned if subsidies are discontinued.

Earlier this April, the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University published a new report, “Rebutting 33 False Claims About Solar, Wind, and Electric Vehicles,” that identifies and assesses 14 of the most pervasive false claims about solar energy, along with 19 other false claims about wind energy and electric vehicles.

The authors of the report began by reviewing websites and social media groups created by opponents of renewable energy development, as well as existing literature about renewable energy misinformation and disinformation.

The authors then sought out peer-reviewed academic studies and government publications to investigate the merits of the claims and to develop transparent and fact-based responses.

The false claims assessed in the report cover a wide variety of arguments against solar development. These include factually inaccurate arguments related to human health, the environment, agriculture, economics, reliability and technological limitations.

Importantly, the report does not deny that renewable energy development or electric vehicle production will have some adverse impacts. However, it seeks to call attention to those claims that are false, with the aim of re-centering the discourse about the energy transition around the best available information.


  1. https://perma.cc/63GB-ZQ3B
  2. https://tinyurl.com/33wbjzz6

About the Authors

Matthew Eisenson is a senior fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. He previously served as an assistant attorney general for New York and worked in private practice at Cleary Gottlieb before that. He graduated from Yale College in 2009 and Yale Law School in 2015.

Jacob Elkin is a fellow at the Sabin Center. He previously clerked on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago in 2016 and graduated from Columbia Law School in 2021.

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