Exactly How Green are Your Solar Panels?

It’s generally accepted these days that solar panels are green. Yes, it does typically require some fossil fuel energy to manufacture a panel or its components, and end-of-life care is an ongoing question since solar panels last 30-40 years or more but certainly not forever. Still, it is almost universally accepted that the environmental gains of the average solar panel far outweigh the losses suffered during its manufacture. But not all solar panels are equally green. solar panel installers Wanting to get to the bottom of this, the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, a noted solar industry watchdog, set out to discover how major solar panel manufacturers stack up in terms of greenness. SVTC sent inquiries to 227 solar companies worldwide and received responses from only 14, although those 14 represent one-quarter of the 2008 market share for solar modules. The survey covered environmental health and safety, including recycling policies, as well as social justice, sustainability and worker’s rights. After rating the respondents on their answers, SVTC found that German companies scored the highest overall, with Calyxo, SolarWorld and Sovello rounding out the top three. Yingli, a Chinese company, came in fourth. First Solar and Abound Solar, the two US companies to respond, fell into the middle of the pack. More than half of the companies said they would support mandatory take-back and recycling programs in their industry, but only 43 percent are actually setting aside money to make that happen. More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed do not conduct life-cycle analysis on their products, nor do they assess the risk of new chemicals used during manufacturing. are solar panels greenNevertheless, the fact that over half of respondents would support mandatory recycling programs shows that there is a general sensitivity to the environment within the solar manufacturing sector. However, only 14 of 227 companies responded to the SVTC survey, and while the 25 percent combined market share represents a healthy portion of solar panels actually resting on rooftops, some big names in solar are missing. Sharp, Miasolé, Best Solar and Solyndra all failed to respond according to Business Green. The need for environmental and social standards is especially important for solar given its default standing as an eco-friendly industry. Plus, in about 20 to 40 years, there will likely be a boom in disposal of solar products built and installed in recent years. Addressing the life cycle of those products today will make proper disposal of them later much easier, as will a standardized approach, which at least half of major solar companies apparently understand. Via Business Green Photo Credit: California Solar

Posted on March 30 in Solar Products by .

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