Solar Panels Could Pose Dangers to the Environment

Solar Energy is one of the top emerging renewable energy sources that could relieve us of our dependency on dirty energy sources like coal and dangerous energy sources like nuclear. Even with it’s many positives, solar energy has a major drawback that could cause some harm to our environment. Solar energy itself is not dangerous nor is the process of solar panels converting the sun’s light into energy. The biggest problem is in the production and disposal of the solar panels.

As reported Solar panels are currently made with various toxic chemicals including silicon. It is a major component in their construction and is a main reason that both must be carefully manufactured and recycled. The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition recently released a report to encourage the industry to pursue more sustainable materials to build their products to ensure that solar energy is truly as green as advertised. Also, they would like the government to enact policies to prevent a similar situation currently occurring with the electronic industry. If preparations are not properly taken then there can be dire consequences. There have been many deaths and communities destroyed due to the toxic byproducts of using silicon. There are huge amounts of toxic materials that lay in our landfills because of the lack of planning on their parts. The goal of this report is to prevent a situation like from happening with the solar panel industry.

A big problem is that the solar industry has started off on a similar track to that of electronics. There was a report that a small town in China was already polluted with a silicon byproduct. Their lands are filled with waste and left unusable. There are also health risks to the people who have not already been directly affected by the toxins. This cannot continue to keep happening if we want to continue to praise solar energy as being green and a renewable energy source. After reading this article, it makes it really hard to continue to support solar energy, but there are still many reasons to do so. As I said earlier, solar energy itself is renewable, just the products used to making the panels. It’s great to see that the coalition is putting pressure on the solar industry to start researching safe material to be used in their manufacturing process. These changes need to be done now before further damage is done.

There is at least some companies that realize the real dangers associated with the waste that could accumulate from their panel production. First Solar is giving their customer’s a lifetime guarantee that they will recycle the panels they sell. This process ensures that their panels do not end up in a landfill and are properly disposed of.  Don’t get me wrong, Solar energy’s benefits far outweigh this one negative.  I would choose solar energy in a heartbeat over horrible energy sources like coal and nuclear.  We just need to make sure that companies are taking responsibility for their products and have recycling programs like First Solar has to make sure these new renewable sources of energy are as green as everybody suggests.

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  1. Very informative post. Good on First SOlar for making a commitment.

    • Jesus
    • March 11th, 2011

    Who is the ignorant who wrote this article? Silicon is the major components in the Earth´s crust and therefore its compounds sorround us. It is in concrete, stone and sand. It is not harmful for humans or the environment. Please stop spreading wrong ideas.

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