Last September, hundreds of Chinese villagers protested a solar panel plant for high levels of pollution, especially high lead levels, dense smoke, and toxic discharges to a river killing the fish population.
It's no huge surprise, since PV manufacture requires over 50 dangerous chemicals in its production, including potent greenhouse gases, carcinogens, and toxic chemicals. The chemicals range from arsenide to cadmium and lead, sulphur hexaflouride (the most potent greenhouse gas known), thiourea (carcinogen), selenium hydride (highly toxic), nitrogen trifluoride (significant greenhouse gas), indium phosphide (known carcinogen), hydrofluoric acid (inhalation or skin contact can be fatal), hexafluoroethane (greenhouse gas), germane (extremely toxic), chromium VI (known carcinogen and toxin), carbon tetrachloride (carcinogen), arsine (carcinogen with high toxicity), and others. These are good things to realize when weighing solar pros and cons.
Information on chemicals from "Toward a Just and Sustainable Solar Energy Industry"
|Polluted river in Zhejiang province, from Greenpeace blog post on the solar plant pollution: |
"Since When Did Clean-Technology Get So Dirty?"