I have always been a huge proponent of PVs. What's not to love really? You have an inert panel, you put it in the sun, and just like magic you get electricity. Well, there is an article in the Washington Post this morning showing some of the down sides of photovoltaic manufacturing, Solar Energy Firms Leave Waste Behind in China.
This article raise a lot of questions in my mind. I am working on a project where we were going to install PVs even though it doesn't provide the minimum 2.5% of our buildings energy to get the coveted LEED On Site Renewable Energy credit. Is it worth putting the PVs on the roof if the manufacturing of them is going to wipe out or poison a Chinese village?
I realize that there are two things we [the people on this planet] are trying to achieve with PVs. The first is to fill the growing energy gap, both because of the dwindling supplies of fossil fuels and the increased demand for energy. But more importantly, in my opinion, isn't it to reduce carbon output and environmental impacts? Why do manufacturers loose this perspective? Why is this there huge disconnect between the profit motive and our ecosystem? Why do manufactures continuously trick us into thinking we are doing something good, while we are poisoning a village on the other side of the world?
I am sure this is not true of all PV manufacturers so if anyone has additional information on who recycles their silicon tetrachloride please let us know. It is clear to me that PVs and other forms of solar energy are a major component to our growing energy needs. This is just one more reason why we as consumers need to be diligent about the cradle to cradle cycle of our consumerism.