I used to be really big on solar energy, putting panels on my house as well as a local school when I was on the school board. But that may all be for naught. There’s a new boogeyman in the world of global warming: Nitrogen Trifluoride
On Lubos Motls The Reference Frame he has as pointed out that a greenhouse gas emitted during the production of solar panels and HDTVs, nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) that is used for cleaning the electronics, is about 17,000 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
The concentration of NF3 in the atmosphere was artificially increased by a factor of 20 during the last two decades. The measurements of the concentration surpassed the previous estimates by a factor of five.
According to the Scripps Institute; ” the present 5,400 tons in the atmosphere…is on the rise at 11 percent per year” – that will stay there for 700+ years – creates the equivalent warming of all Finland’s CO2 emissions.
According to Lubos, given the fact that the solar panels produce about the same percentage of the global energy as Finland, it is reasonable to guess that the state-of-the-art solar panels that would replace fossil fuels would cause a comparable amount of warming per Joule as fossil fuels.
So let’s just say – everything causes global warming, and leave it at that.
For reference, I’ve listed some other common industrial gases below:
Global Warming Potentials Of Gases
(100 Year Time Horizon)
Carbon dioxide (CO2) 1
Methane (CH4) 23
Nitrous oxide (N2O) 296
Fully Fluorinated Gases
The concept of the global warming potential (GWP) was developed to compare the ability of each greenhouse gas to trap heat in the atmosphere relative to another gas. In this case, CO2 is the reference gas. Methane, for example, has a GWP of 23 over a 100-year period. This means that on a kilogram for kilogram basis, methane is 23 times more potent than CO2 over a 100-year period.