Yes, we do. Because “clean energy” from photovoltaic installation may pollute a lot without them.
I had never thought of it, but I just learned, thanks to a tweet by @Santi_MBarajas, that:
“In many photovoltaic solar installations, herbicides are massively used to prevent the growth of vegetation, which produces a great environmental impact, due to the contamination of soil and water. It is a practice that should be prohibited, replaced by brush cutters.”
“Clean” energy via herbicides? Not so clean. Or smart.
It seems to that, if we want really clean energy from photovoltaic installations, we badly need (*), in order to keep costs and maintenance burdens down, a massive deployment of “gardeners” like this:
that is: robotic lawn mowers that can keep the fields as clean as possible by themselves, and are also able to figure out, and report, where and when a human-driven brush cutter is actually needed.
Why Open Hardware? Because it is the best, if not the only way to keep those lawn mowers as cheap as possible, but also that everybody can service and adapt them to local conditions, without artificial limitations. Really clean renewable energy is too important to leave it to business models that can cause this kind of problems.
(*) besides proper disposals of the panels themselves when they reach end of life, of course!