Solar industry raises concerns of potential e-waste

by Jasmina Nikoloska

Reducing the use of fossil fuel, cutting greenhouse gases and other air pollution emissions have become recognised necessities; the recent explosive growth of solar technology is a welcomed occurrence because of the expected energy crisis.

Thankfully, the Sun is most widely available energy resource.

However, solar modules contain some of the potentially dangerous substances found in electronic waste, including silicon tetrachloride, cadmium, selenium and sulphur hexafluoride, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that e-waste is growing at two to three times the rate of any other source of waste; furthermore, only 15 to 20 per cent of e-waste is recycled.

The crystalline photovoltaic cell is the oldest and most widespread solar technology in the United States, holding a 57 per cent market share in 2009, according to Greentech Media. A thin film technology called cadmium telluride holds about 21 per cent, while copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) currently has a market share of just 6 per cent. Amorphous silicon, which also has an indium tin oxide layer, takes 16 per cent.

Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition (SCTC) issued a report in 2009 warning that solar panels provide clean energy while in use, but a variety of factors during their manufacturing and disposal has the potential to greatly damage the environment.

Now is the right time to recognise the necessary measures for the solar industry to remain sustainable and retain it green credibility. Although solar panels have a life expectancy of approximately 25 years, and it is not expected for large amounts of modules to be returned for another 10 to 15 years for recycling or disposal, there is a big e-waste potential.

It is important to build proper infrastructure and address the issues of producer responsibility, recycling in an attempt to avoid the danger of electronic waste and future plans for the disposal of solar panels that are no longer needed.

Still, most companies that are beginning recycling programmes today are proceeding under the assumption that recycling will be costly. They are preparing for that expense by creating a variety of funding mechanisms based on the principle of producer responsibility, The Guardian wrote on 3 September 2010.

Currently there is nothing much to recycle except…..

See more: http://www.energetika.net/eu/novice/interviews/solar-industry-raises-concerns-of-potential-ewaste
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One Comment to “Solar industry raises concerns of potential e-waste”

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