There’s always “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey used to say. The pied pipers touting green energy such as solar panels typically forget to tell the whole story. Jason Dearen, writing for msn.com, did a little digging and guess what he found? Solar panel companies in California generated 46 million pounds of waste between 2007 and mid-2011! Notes Dearen:
Fueled partly by billions in government incentives, the industry is creating millions of solar panels each year and, in the process, millions of pounds of polluted sludge and contaminated water.
To dispose of the material, the companies must transport it by truck or rail far from their own plants to waste facilities hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of miles away.
The fossil fuels used to transport that waste, experts say, is not typically considered in calculating solar’s carbon footprint, giving scientists and consumers who use the measurement to gauge a product’s impact on global warming the impression that solar is cleaner than it is.
No! Wait! Really? They forgot?
The impact is significant:
After installing a solar panel, “it would take one to three months of generating electricity to pay off the energy invested in driving those hazardous waste emissions out of state,” said Dustin Mulvaney, a San Jose State University environmental studies professor who conducts carbon footprint analyses of solar, biofuel and natural gas production.
Obama’s favorite, Solyndra, did its fair share of polluting the environment:
Solyndra, the now-defunct solar company that received $535 million in guaranteed federal loans, reported producing about 12.5 million pounds of hazardous waste, much of it carcinogenic cadmium-contaminated water, which was sent to waste facilities from 2007 through mid-2011.
Where are the environmentalists! Where is the Sierra Club? “Carcinogenic cadmium-contaminated water”? That can’t be good for the environment, can it? Or people? But I’m probably overreacting. I do that a lot.
At least Solyndra, before it went bankrupt, made some solar panels. Many did not. All they did was create waste:
The records also show several other Silicon Valley solar facilities created millions of pounds of toxic waste without selling a single solar panel, while they were developing their technology or fine-tuning their production.
Oh, wait! There is an environmental group out there monitoring all of this after all:
The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, a watchdog group created in 1982 in response to severe environmental problems associated with the valley’s electronics industry, is now trying to keep the solar industry from making similar mistakes through a voluntary waste reporting “scorecard.” So far, only 14 of 114 companies contacted have replied.
Paul Harvey would have a field day with this.