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Easing Concerns About Pollution From Manufacture Of Solar Cells

Date:
February 26, 2008
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
In a finding that could help ease concerns about the potential environmental impact of manufacturing solar cells, scientists report that the manufacture of solar cells produces far fewer air pollutants than conventional fossil fuel technologies. Solar energy has been touted for years as a safer, cleaner alternative to burning fossil fuels to meet rising energy demands. However, environmentalists and others are increasingly concerned about the potential negative impact of solar cell (photovoltaic) technology.

Manufacturing solar cells, which harness the energy of the sun, produces far few pollutants than conventional fossil fuel technologies, scientists say.
Credit: Courtesy of NASA

In a finding that could help ease concerns about the potential environmental impact of manufacturing solar cells, scientists report that the manufacture of solar cells produces far fewer air pollutants than conventional fossil fuel technologies. Their report is the first comprehensive study on the pollutants produced during the manufacture of solar cells.

Solar energy has been touted for years as a safer, cleaner alternative to burning fossil fuels to meet rising energy demands. However, environmentalists and others are increasingly concerned about the potential negative impact of solar cell (photovoltaic) technology.

Manufacture of photovoltaic cells requires potentially toxic metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium and produces carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming.

In the new study, Vasilis M. Fthenakis and colleagues gathered air pollution emissions data from 13 solar cell manufacturers in Europe and the United States from 2004-2006. The solar cells include four major commercial types: multicrystalline silicon, monocrystalline silicon, ribbon silicon, and thin-film cadmium telluride.

The researchers found that producing electricity from solar cells reduces air pollutants by about 90 percent in comparison to using conventional fossil fuel technologies.

The study "Emissions from Photovoltaic Life Cycles" is scheduled for the March 15 issue of the ACS' Environmental Science & Technology. doi./10.1021/es071763q


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The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Easing Concerns About Pollution From Manufacture Of Solar Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080225090826.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2008, February 26). Easing Concerns About Pollution From Manufacture Of Solar Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080225090826.htm
American Chemical Society. "Easing Concerns About Pollution From Manufacture Of Solar Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080225090826.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

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