Skip to comments.Solar industry grapples with hazardous wastes
Posted on 02/11/2013 2:45:33 AM PST by lowbridge
Homeowners on the hunt for sparkling solar panels are lured by ads filled with images of pristine landscapes and bright sunshine, and words about the technology's benefits for the environment and the wallet.
What customers may not know is that there's a dirtier side.
While solar is a far less polluting energy source than coal or natural gas, many panel makers are nevertheless grappling with a hazardous waste problem. Fueled partly by billions in government incentives, the industry is creating millions of solar panels each year and, in the process, millions of pounds of polluted sludge and contaminated water.
To dispose of the material, the companies must transport it by truck or rail far from their own plants to waste facilities hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of miles away.
The fossil fuels used to transport that waste, experts say, is not typically considered in calculating solar's carbon footprint, giving scientists and consumers who use the measurement to gauge a product's impact on global warming the impression that solar is cleaner than it is.
After installing a solar panel, "it would take one to three months of generating electricity to pay off the energy invested in driving those hazardous waste emissions out of state," said Dustin Mulvaney, a San Jose State University environmental studies professor who conducts carbon footprint analyses of solar, biofuel and natural gas production.
The waste from manufacturing has raised concerns within the industry, which fears that the problem, if left unchecked, could undermine solar's green image at a time when companies are facing stiff competition from each other and from low-cost panel manufacturers from China and elsewhere.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
There is no free lunch.
Dump that waste on obama’s Chicago home. The whole city is nothing but a garbage dump anyway and he’ll enjoy having his morning coffee while looking over his kingdom of “green”.
Wait until those start to pile up.
... in search for crony capitalist tax-dollar grants and federal green-energy UN-Agenda-21-inspired flat-earth-no-growth-marxist "stimulus" give-aways from the Ø regime.
The other problem as I understand it is the electricity that goes into making the silicon slabs. Apparently the solar industry uses the waste of the computer industry so the power that goes onto making the slabs is not included in the payback calculations. If it was, solar would show a net negative in power generation.
I have heard similar statements. In a nutshell it takes more energy to produce a solar cell than the amount of energy the cell will produce.
I just picked some up at a buck a watt. As an extreme lowball, assume I will get 20,000 hours at full power out of them. Assume a lowball 0.04 cents for industrial power. That's $800 worth of power per watt of panel. I am paying a buck a watt. I doubt that industry is eating $799 in power costs.
It's a valid point, to really work correctly, each solar site needs its own batteries. Otherwise it's really just a scam where people get paid retail for their home-generated solar power that is worth probably 0.03 cents. OTOH, I have a bunch of AGM batteries in the crawl space. Not only are they not an environmental problem, but I will get a nice chunk of money from the battery store when I bring them back.
Solar produces up to 10 times in power what it takes to make it according to various sources, e.g. http://www.azimuthproject.org/azimuth/show/Energy+return+on+energy+invested
Well, the time for a photovoltaic cell to repay the amount of electrical energy required for its manufacturer may be dropping with better technology but rest assured its a number that (without extreme subsidization) is way out there in territory that nobody with a business sense would do. Heres another big unintended consequence .. the chemical NF3 is used in the manufacture of solar cells. http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2085 Its also used in the semiconductor industry and for making things such as cell phone and flat screen TVs. Regardless, if somebody was concerned about greenhouse gases, they should know that NFS has 17,000 times the potential of CO2 and it is starting to show up in the atmosphere at a rapidly increasing rate.
Well, the time for a photovoltaic cell to repay the amount of electrical energy required for its manufacturer may be dropping with better technology but rest assured its a number that (without extreme subsidization) is way out there in territory that nobody with a business sense would do. Heres another big unintended consequence .. the chemical NF3 is used in the manufacture of solar cells. http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2085 Its also used in the semiconductor industry and for making things such as cell phone and flat screen TVs. Regardless, if somebody was concerned about greenhouse gases, they should know that NF3 has 17,000 times the potential of CO2 and it is starting to show up in the atmosphere at a rapidly increasing rate.
I guess it's OK, then. Toxic waste from solar cells is OK, as long as we don't have any dead bodies around it, but spent fuel rods from nuclear plants, with no evidence of harm in 55 years of disposal, can't be tolerated.
I’ve seen those estimates before but the baseline for solar tends to leave out the production of the silicon slabs. I’ve tried to find info on what the costs are around silicon slab production but it’s usually only mentioned as “waste product” of the microelectronics industry and thus has no energy input in its production.
And then there’s all the toxic waste issues which is why solar panels are mostly made in China where they don’t care.
Falcon is right, can you imagine dumping tens of millions of those big batteries annually?
No doubt that solar is made to look pretty and pay no attention to the toxic waste dump behind the curtain. OTOH, my first panels were $3-4 per watt and now they are buck. Still can’t justify it as much more than an expensive hobby, but I will slowly build what I have into off-grid living where necessary (except hot water) but enjoy my cheap on-grid showers and other conveniences whenever I can.
That's just silly. The battery dealer gladly pays me $20 or 25 for my old batteries (contain about 40-50 pounds of lead). This is not just a government thing, it is economically feasible to recycle and reuse the lead.
Solar’s green image fails after being exposed,expected.