Way out there in California, they have forgotten ancient worries about fossil fuel emissions and extracting disgustiing substances from Alberta. Instead worries about how to dispose of BP’s old solar panels come to the fore. Slightly more relevant to anyone who has solar close to his or her heart, the sponsored Solar Scorecard annually produces all the major panel producers in a dreaded list that can make or break. In 2014, the topic for consideration is still hazardous chemical reduction in the panels and protection of endangered, threatened or especially-concerned species (well, it is really the people who are concerned about the animal, not the species themselves.)
The scorecard itself lists attributes such as EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility), where companies such as Trina, Up Solar and Yingli score highly. This is a prestigious mark, as it relates to a fully funded collection and recycling system. Of these top performers, only Trina is fully transparent about its emissions however, and compliant on its workers’ rights. Biodiversity scores are measured by the number of
take permits for certain protected animals and other possible effects on biodiversity around project sites. This time, Trina is joined again by Yingli and Up Solar, alongside many others such as Suntech and Mitsubishi.
What people really want to know is how to extract as much electricity as possible from their roof or on the ground, at minimal cost and in the long term. That is one of the most difficult questions around, to be honest. The only ones able to answer that is a transitory way are the suppliers. If they have taken this care that is suggested by the scorecard, it would be unlikely that they would choose a poorly-functioning, out-of-date or slightly-toxic panel. Avoiding the obvious self-seeking profit taking, small supplier (as, unfortunately, the scorecard also does, despite the small man’s potential for selectivity), you would need to rely on your favourite supplier’s (latest) choice. Events move so rapidly in PV (photovoltaic) research and several other solar possibilities, even that reliance could be tested, but it is the only way forward unless you are an insider. Good Luck!
The non-profit Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition Score Card can be read in full for this year and many past. Their role in this, if you are interested lies in the old chestnut of groundwater contamination by high-tech manufacturers in their area. We have our renewable energy articles frequently examined, so I hope you also enjoy examining them yourself!