Solar panel manufacturing and disposal -- is it green and safe?

Major solar companies aren't just prioritizing market share and installed megawatts these days, according to a study that contends that the environmental and health effects of photovoltaic panels also are becoming a major consideration.

In its most recent Solar Scorecard, the nonprofit advocacy group Toxics Coalition ranked international solar manufacturers on factors such as extraction of the raw materials, toxic chemical use in production, worker safety issues, product disposal, recycling and more.

German company SolarWorld nabbed the top score of 91, followed by Trina Solar in China. Next came a three-way tie among Abound and First Solar in the U.S. and REC of Norway. SunPower, based in San Jose, Calif., trailed close behind.

The 15 companies included in the study represent nearly half of the solar photovoltaic industry by market share. Of those, just two said their products contained no or lead.

But 13 said they conducted audits and monitored their supply chain for environmental, health and safety issues. Eleven said they would publicly support a law that would require companies to take back and recycle panels at the end of their life.

All five of the manufacturers that said they had undergone the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure test and passed, meaning that their photovoltaic modules are not considered to be .

Three companies took two similar tests offered by the state of California. One company failed both tests, and the two others each failed one.


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Apr 11, 2011
People have got too realize that perfection isn't possible. Solar power is a much cleaner energy alternative to coal and and oil electricity generation, if it can be cost affective.

Apr 11, 2011
People have got too realize that perfection isn't possible. Solar power is a much cleaner energy alternative to coal and and oil electricity generation, if it can be cost affective.


Definitely.

Even "ideal" machines would not be perfect, as there would still be material costs and pollution even then...

I will say that for large operations, solar boiler plants continue to be far cleaner and more efficient than PV cells.

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