The Dirty Side of Solar Power

Fueled in part by billions of dollars in government incentives, the solar panel industry is creating millions of pounds of polluted sludge and contaminated water as a by-product of robust manufacturing. That’s according to a report in the Washington Post.

Adding to the irony, disposing of waste requires companies to transport the dangerous dirt by truck or rail far to waste facilities hundreds and thousands of miles away from plants. The fossil fuels used to transport that waste is not considered in calculating solar panels’ carbon footprint, giving scientists and consumers a false sense of solar’s “green” credentials.

The increase in solar hazardous waste is directly related to the industry’s fast growth over the past five years.  California is the most obvious example of just how much waste and fuel is used in panel creation.  1970s-era regulations require industrial plants like solar panel makers to report the amount of hazardous materials they produce, and where they send it.  Since California leads the consumer solar market in the U.S., their reports offer a glimpse into how much dirty material is generated in the industry.

The waste issue worries many in the industry, who fear that if the problem is left unchecked, it could discourage buyers and citizen groups dismayed by the level of pollution.  This would heighten the already stiff competition US manufacturers face from China and elsewhere.

To read the complete Washington Post story, click here

Tags: Solar

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