Solar Panels Produce Tons Of Toxic Waste—Literally

A closer look at solar panels opens a wide array of questions that need answers.

By Will Wirtz,

Solar panels have been heralded as the alternative to fossil fuels for decades. Most readers have likely seen exciting headlines claiming we could power the world’s energy demands multiple times were we simply to cover the Sahara Desert with a solar farm the size of China. The fact that such endeavors would be unsustainable due to their size and the sheer amount of maintenance required or that the necessary infrastructure to bring this energy all around the world is simply unimaginable is irrelevant to those who dream of a solar future.

“In the age of emissions trading and international climate conferences, nothing is applauded more than showing off some big investments in solar”. 

That’s fine; we’re all dreamers in one way or another. This fantasy has grasped many voters, however, and politicians are all too keen to jump on the gravy train of alternative energy. Solar panels are subsidized to an enormous extent, as are solar farms, be they public or private. In the age of emissions trading and international climate conferences, nothing is applauded more than showing off some big investments into harvesting the sun as an electricity supplier.

This zeitgeist is reflected in solar panel sales. The different arrows in the chart below point to the moments when Solar Investment Tax Credits (ITC) were introduced, extended, or expanded.

Beyond the clear misallocation of resources and energy market price distortions, there is a further environmental problem associated with solar panels.

Beyond the inefficient use of these resources to begin with (in the process of making crystalline silicon from silicon, as much as 80 percent of the raw silicon is lost), there are numerous human health concerns directly related to the manufacture and disposal of solar panels.

According to cancer biologist David H. Nguyen, PhD, toxic chemicals in solar panels include cadmium telluride, copper indium selenide, cadmium gallium (di)selenide, copper indium gallium (di)selenide, hexafluoroethane, lead, and polyvinyl fluoride. Silicon tetrachloride, a byproduct of producing crystalline silicon, is also highly toxic.

The pro-solar website EnergySage writes:

There are some chemicals used in the manufacturing process to prepare silicon and make the wafers for monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. One of the most toxic chemicals created as a byproduct of this process is silicon tetrachloride. This chemical, if not handled and disposed of properly, can lead to burns on your skin, harmful air pollutants that increase lung disease, and if exposed to water can release hydrochloric acid, which is a corrosive substance bad for human and environmental health.

For any user of solar panels, this is not an immediate risk as it only affects manufacturers and recyclers. More disconcerting, however, is the environmental impact of these chemicals. Based on installed capacity and power-related weight, we can estimate that by 2016, photovoltaics had spread about 11,000 tons of lead and about 800 tons of cadmium. A hazard summary of cadmium compounds produced by the EPA points out that exposure to cadmium can lead to serious lung irritation and long-lasting impairment of pulmonary functions. Exposure to lead hardly needs further explanation.

In one 2003 study, researchers drew attention to the fact that cadmium is the benefactor of special environmental treatment, which allows solar energy to be more economically efficient (as far as that word quite applies to solar energy even in the current state of subsidization). They wrote:

If they were classified as “hazardous” according to Federal or State criteria, then special requirements for material handling, disposal, record keeping, and reporting would escalate the cost of decommissioning.

This mirrors an answer given by Cara Libby, Senior Technical Leader of Solar Energy at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), who admits that there is no lucrative amount of salvageable parts on any type of solar panel. She adds:

In Europe, we’ve seen that when it’s mandated, it gets done. Either it becomes economical or it gets mandated. But I’ve heard that it will have to be mandated because it won’t ever be economical.

It is no wonder that Chinese factories, when confronted with the exorbitant costs (both financial and environmental) of decomposing solar panel chemicals properly, prefer to release them into the environment rather than dispose of them in an environmentally safe manner.

Stanford Magazine also points out that solar energy has a higher carbon footprint than wind and nuclear energy. Ray Weiss, a professor of Geochemistry at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, explains that a number of solar panels release nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), a chemical compound 17,000 times worse for the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. As recently as 2015, he explained that many manufacturers were still struggling to figure out how to contain its release into the atmosphere.

Energy policy is not a place for emotion or action based on instinct. We throw around a lot of buzz words that lead us to the belief that one energy supply is “cleaner” than the other. The reality is that human action and interaction require a constant supply of energy. All forms of energy production have an impact on the environment.

Questioning certain narratives regarding the eco-friendliness of those classified as “renewable” but do not live up to an environmental standard that reasonable people could support is essential to both innovation and environmental protection.

 

Source: https://fee.org

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11 thoughts on “Solar Panels Produce Tons Of Toxic Waste—Literally”

  1. Electric car battery is as heavy as 5 people in car.So all you need is remote control to drive it without sitting in it.This is what I call real progress.And if you have seen that cartoon where electric car is charging it leads all the way to coal powered power station.But it makes you happy to be taken for ride by engineers of the future.Some batteries do start fire.When you need new battery it costs like buying new car..History had it when first cars in New York start huffing and puffing, village people were saying this is work of devil,and it will bring no good to humanity.Them days engineers responded with you are uneducated people you don’t know what are you talking.It took about 120 years for educated people to understand what uneducated village people were saying.Thanks to cosmic energy that I was educated by very primitive illiterate tribal people.This was my biggest university graduation.On other side in these days city had tons and tons of horse .manure and millions of liters of horse urine on streets.And to this day we did not learn that big cities are time bombs.

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  2. If people buy solar panels, smart meters, which are causing serious health problems would not sell. In my estimation, this is an attack against our freedom. You can also expect an attack against electric cars and their safe chargers.

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    • It is not that there is something wrong with solar or electric technologies by itself but the message is that the actual “hardware” has been altered and tainted by the controllers/dark ones to instead pollute and harm humans. Electric vehicles are practically cancer spreading machines on wheels as people seats on huge-not properly insulated batteries- with EMF’s of at least 5 times higher the safe levels recommended for human exposure.

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  3. I can not help thinking about the hole in the Ozonlayer that was made years ago, and because of that hole, the earth got heated up too by some degrees.
    And the hole could not be closed. Who made that hole in the Ozonlayer? on purpose or an accident? You don’t hear anything about that anymore. What were they trying to do with
    that action and who? There must be consequences I would think. You never hear anybody talk about this either.

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  4. I completely agree with Dhara, on the spiritual side, know to little about the scientific side.
    But is the climate change only due to the people. What about the hole in the ozonlayer that can not be closed, how did that hole get there where we have much more heat where nobody talks about any more.
    Who made that hole? Somebody seems to have made a big mistake? Why don’t we hear about that anymore?

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  5. Tetrachloride are atoms of chlorine – what they put in our water. Now there is a concern because it enters our bodies. By the way, there are two different types of chlorine – one very toxic and one not. Guess which one is being used today. If that were not enough fluoride is added to the water to shut down our powerful pineal and pituitary glands that connect us to our Higher More Noble I AM Selves through our Sacred Heart Flames.

    Silicone, made of silica – there is no life without silica – is a mineral and trace minerals, but when crystalized and/or breathed from a dust – because it dries up moisture in the lungs, yes can be hazardous over a period of time. But you are not breathing a dust with solar panels. Nor are you consuming the crystalized form.

    There other solutions to the toxic chemicals used in the manufacturer of solar panels besides what was sold to them by the manufacturer of those chemicals. The by-product – a solar panel – is not toxic. The dark forces want us to believe we should be afraid of the sun, not worship it, use it for energy. Why? Because the viruses they have created – injected directly into our blood stream – cannot survive when exposed to sunlight.

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  6. I truly appreciate your willingness to look at all sides of an issue, but let me remind you of something.

    Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that comes from the exhaust of internal combustion engines (gas run cars, planes, etc.)

    Carbon dioxide CO2 is a non-combustion heavy gas that dissolves in water to form carbonic acid. It is the creation (exchange) of human and animal respiration, taken from the air given to us by plants and trees. Trees and plants then take the carbon dioxide that we exhale to make the very air that we breathe, that we require for our very existence. And carbon dioxide creates air from the transmutation of vegetation and animal matter; a photosythesis process of life on this Earth that we cannot live without.

    The only way the dark forces can maintain control of Humanity is by keeping us sick with car exhaust (internal combustion), burning of coal, dangerous nuclear wastes. toxic (slow-poison) foods and water, predatory medicines and vaccines that contain non-technology implants (to manipulate and destroy the body’s sacred immune system, beginning with our glands), wars of fear based energies of hatred and constant sexual stimulation to keep our bodies from being fed and energized by our kundalini energies at the base of our spines; by keeping it from moving up the spine. They depend upon their powers of contamination to keep us in ignorance.

    Victory of the Light!

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  7. This seems more like a bad recycling problem than a solar panel problem there will always be contamination from one element or another even if we were to use a replicator that problem wouldn’t go away.

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