Death. Kg98Q5qdLW, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons. Solar Panel. Snowacinesy, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Joe Biden Pledges to Make Solar Panels More Environmentally Toxic

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t ResourceGuy; If you thought Arsenic doped Silicon or Gallium Arsenide on your roof was bad, how about solar cells made of organic Lead compounds, or Cadmium Telluride? Biden’s quest for cheaper solar is exploring some truly terrifying photovoltaic innovations.

U.S. pledges to slash solar energy costs by 60% in a decade

Fri March 26, 2021

March 25 (Reuters) – The Biden administration on Thursday set a goal to cut the cost of solar energy by 60% over the next decade as part of an ambitious plan to decarbonize the United States’ power sector by 2035.

The U.S. Department of Energy said the goal accelerates its previous utility-scale solar cost target by five years. For the U.S. power grid to run entirely on clean energy within 15 years, a key pillar of President Joe Biden’s climate change agenda, solar energy will need to be installed as much as five times faster than it is today, DOE said.

To get there, the agency committed to spending $128 million on technologies including perovskite solar cells, which are regarded as a promising cheap alternative to the silicon cells that dominate the market. Funds will also support research on cadmium telluride and concentrating solar technologies.

Read more:

Rechargeable batteries used to contain Cadmium, it was discontinued because Cadmium is horribly toxic. less than half a gram of Cadmium in your system will really mess up your day. Symptoms include cancer, “Cadmium Blues” (persistent flu like symptoms), renal failure, softening of the bones, emphysema and respiratory damage. Can you imagine having several pounds of Cadmium on your roof? What if your neighbour’s solar powered rooftop catches fire?

Tellurium is unpleasant, though it does not seem as toxic as Cadmium. At least people seem to recover from Tellurium poisoning. Clinical features of acute tellurium toxicity include a metallic taste, nausea, vomiting, blackened oral mucosa and skin, and corrosive gastrointestinal tract injury from acidic solvents. … Our patients exhibited many of the characteristic features of tellurium toxicity, namely, vomiting, garlic odor of the breath, blackened oral mucosa, and benign clinical course. – source

Cadmium Telluride solar cells – double the fun, if a house fire spreads the panel material around your neighbourhood. I’m not eating pie made from that Apple tree.

The Perovskite solar cells are if anything are potentially even worse. From Wikipedia :- perovskite solar cell (PSC) is a type of solar cell which includes a perovskite-structured compound, most commonly a hybrid organic-inorganic lead or tin halide-based material, as the light-harvesting active layer. Perovskite materials, such as methylammonium lead halides and all-inorganic caesium lead halide, are cheap to produce and simple to manufacture.

Organic lead is probably the worst form of lead exposure, because it is fat soluble. Organic lead is neatly packaged for optimum absorption into your body and brain tissue. You don’t even have to ingest or breath it in – organic lead can pass right through your skin, all it has to do is touch you.

From Wikipedia;

… Lead poisoning can cause a variety of symptoms and signs which vary depending on the individual and the duration of lead exposure. Symptoms are nonspecific and may be subtle, and someone with elevated lead levels may have no symptoms. Symptoms usually develop over weeks to months as lead builds up in the body during a chronic exposure, but acute symptoms from brief, intense exposures also occur. Symptoms from exposure to organic lead, which is probably more toxic than inorganic lead due to its lipid solubility, occur rapidly. Poisoning by organic lead compounds has symptoms predominantly in the central nervous system, such as insomniadeliriumcognitive deficitstremor, hallucinations, and convulsions.

Symptoms may be different in adults and children; the main symptoms in adults are headache, abdominal painmemory losskidney failure, male reproductive problems, and weakness, pain, or tingling in the extremities …

Read more:

There is a reason governments are moving away from allowing the addition of small amounts of organic lead to gasoline.

The tin based Perovskite is probably the least offensive of the chemicals listed. Metallic tin is commonly used as a plating on food tins, though you can still suffer acute toxicity from ingestion of soluble tin salts, say if there was a problem with processing the food. But even if they go for the tin based Perovskite, after they finish tinkering with the formula, who knows what the final recipe will contain.

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Walter Horsting
March 25, 2021 6:05 pm

Save nature from the Greens and Massively unsustainable RE:
The Case for the Good Reactor

Tom Halla
March 25, 2021 6:07 pm

Oh don’t worry about the solar panels on your house! As the greens really want you in a warren where you can serve as their sedan chair bearer, the toxicity of solar panels is a minor effect./s

March 25, 2021 6:09 pm

Easier said than done.

John the Econ
March 25, 2021 6:15 pm

To think we gave up leaded gasoline for this.

Reply to  John the Econ
March 25, 2021 8:27 pm

That is not why we gave up leaded gasoline.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Ric Werme
March 26, 2021 4:27 am

So why did we give up leaded petrol?
I am unaware of a proven unequivocal case of any person poisoned by lead from petrol.
OTOH large doses of Pb, several orders of magnitude more than from leaded petrol, do cause illness and death, though the symptoms do not resemble those from the low levels that crook scientists blame on lead. Look up papers on pica for lead. I had to spend a lot of time on this topic after our company acquired by chance a block of land in a takeover, bulldozed land that had housed a lead-acid battery recycling plant. We were taken to Court by EPA, who failed to comprehend that it had been better to put used acid batteries in a central place than to leave them among children in home back yards. They lost. Geoff S

Izaak Walton
March 25, 2021 6:25 pm

And just yesterday you were mocking people for complaining about the dangers of ingesting hormone disrupting chemicals. So is the rule that chemicals results from fossil fuel use are ok while those involved in sustainable energy production bad or is there some other rule?

Most people currently own a petrol powered car that contains litres of a flammable toxic compound
(petrol) that is deadly if ingested. But they do so safely thanks to modern engineering practices and safety regulations. The same is likely to be the same for newer solar cells.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 25, 2021 8:40 pm reports:

The researchers said although some of the gases emitted were less harmful than CO, four toxic emissions were detected: sulfur dioxide, hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen cyanide and volatile organic compounds. “As far as is known, the poisoning effect of combustion products is more dependent on the burning rate and conditions and not on the chemical composition of the burning materials, which is a critical limit,” stated the study.

I don’t think any of those are from the silicon based solar cell itself. It also says:

The Experimental study on burning and toxicity hazards of a PET laminated photovoltaic panel paper – published in Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, and reported on the ScienceDirect website – noted the melting point of PET was around 250 degrees Celsius and that of EVA film around 75 degrees Celsius. According to the paper, when the temperature rose, the lower layer of EVA melted before the PET so numerous dense blisters were rapidly generated under the PET and continuously collapsed. “When the flame spreads over the entire surface of the sample it enters the full combustion phase,” the researchers reported. After the fire was extinguished, the burnt device showed residue of blue polycrystalline silicon solar wafer and white glass fibers with the polymers in the EVA, PET and PCB completely burnt.

Silicon has a high melting point and I assume a high combustion temperature. Both of those attributes help to keep that solar cell material from mixing in the smoke of a burning panel.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 26, 2021 10:57 am

Rather more worrying than the pollution from rooftop PV’s caught in a fire is that while the sun is shining there is no off switch. I would not like to be a fire fighter having to play a hose over what may be electrical conductors carrying several hundred DC volts.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
April 1, 2021 4:58 am

Eric we have an 87MW thin film cadmium/tellurium solar installation 4 kilometres from our home.

This installation sits on 310 hectares of quality agricultural land, and over two waterways. It was commissioned in 2019 and was sold that same year and is currently up for sale again. The asset has not done well and has been written down in value. Last year there were four fires within a few kilometres of the site that required the fire brigade, all of them due to careless people. Fortunately, all were brought under control and did not reach the installation, this time.

We asked one of the senior firefighters how they would fight a fire at this facility, he said “we’d let it burn”. He explained that even with specialist breathing equipment the risks were to high. He added that you can’t train a firehose on solar panels anyhow as the damaged panels are live. He said the best way to fight an industrial scale solar facility was from the air, with a water bomber.

We had a lightning strike at the facility last year. Most locals are unaware of this but as the facility is ‘listed’ they are obliged to disclose whatever issues may affect the asset. No one has told any of the townspeople, it had a serious impact on output of power for some months. Were there panels damaged? Was there any contamination?

No one cares Eric, the state government are saying that renewables are largely accepted in rural communities, an outright lie. We are in the heart of the first Renewable Energy Zone, this infrastructure is devastating. Long time community relationships are being destroyed.

The people pushing renewables know nothing about them, it’s a disgrace. They also talk up all the jobs that are created. That too is a lie. Most of the jobs are in mining, processing, manufacturing and shipping. Jobs for China. Even the construction work is predominantly backpackers, we spoke to one young girl who said she’d been here for three years. There was around 560 backpackers working on the project in Wellington at one point. Traditionally backpackers pick fruit and veg seasonally here in Australia, farmers are ploughing produce into the ground because they can’t get the workers.

Our subsidies, our taxes, are mostly going to overseas jobs. The majority of the investors are backed by large overseas conglomerate companies.

We are currently fighting a 400MW solar and backup batteries project that will take up close to 18 square kilometres of agricultural grazing land and will be approximately 8 kilometres from our home. Most of it will be laser bulldozed removing every blade of grass shrub and small creature that may live there.

We were alerted just a few days ago to another two planned developments, again approximately 8 kilometres from our home but in a different direction. One will be solar and the other wind turbines. I don’t know the land content yet.

Sorry about the length of the response, I just needed to get it out there, my mental health is on the decline. We have been corresponding to media and politicians for two years now, most do not respond. Our State member doesn’t answer our correspondence at all. Our Federal member has been promising to meet with us for around 6 months now.

This is a truly beautiful rural and wine region and is extremely popular with tourists. They are slowly destroying our beautiful small towns and will leave millions of solar panels and thousands of wind turbines for future generations to deal with.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Izaak Walton
March 25, 2021 6:58 pm

We turn those “litres of a flammable toxic compound” into plant food.
The left-over grease from a fish and chips fryer can run an auto or lorries, and even jet airplanes.

Can you say that about a solar panel? Or a carbon fiber epoxy wind turbine blade.

Walter Horsting
Reply to  Izaak Walton
March 25, 2021 6:59 pm

Solar is a toxic recycling time bomb.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
March 25, 2021 7:20 pm

Not to be recommended, but people can ingest small amounts of gasoline or diesel with little effect.

Reply to  Scissor
March 25, 2021 7:41 pm

Reminds me of that old saw, “Gasoline and alcohol don’t mix. Yes they do, they just don’t taste good.”

Reply to  Scissor
March 25, 2021 7:58 pm

And some bacteria thrive in the crude nutrients.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Izaak Walton
March 25, 2021 7:29 pm

I find your show of faith…. Disturbing.

In a broad sense you are probably correct. Everything has a risk and a large part of engineering is ensuring you have implemented risk reduction processes As Far As Is Reasonably Practical.

So in theory anything released into the public will be engineered so to be extremely low risk to Mr and Mrs Idiot. In Theory at least.

The problem with our solar panels in context with our problem is we are talking about various materials what studies have shown to be harmful. When you do engineering safety training one of the first things we are taught is the best way to reduce risk is remove the core problem. Deep hole in the walkway? Fill the hole in. No hole. No hole related risks.

So the solution to ‘How do we reduce the risks associated with ‘New Material’?’ could simply be ‘Don’t use it’.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
March 25, 2021 7:32 pm

So far no useful method has been developed for recycling hundreds of old solar panels, they are just going into landfill. More toxic solar cells means more toxic landfill and ground water. Quite aside that the more the solar, the higher the cost for electricity.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Izaak Walton
March 25, 2021 8:41 pm

Apart from the fact that there is nothing “sustainable” about solar or wind generation, I can’t remember the last time I heard about anyone drinking gasoline. Burning a solar cell is almost as flammable and an order of magnitude more toxic. Sometimes I wonder why you feel the need to post such silly responses. There’s a limitt to how “safely” highly toxic materials can be handled, regardless how carefully they’re engineered.

Izaak Walton
Reply to  Rory Forbes
March 25, 2021 10:02 pm

Have a look at:
which says that 34000 people were admitted to hospital in the last 20 years in the USA due to poisoning from drinking gasoline.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
March 25, 2021 11:16 pm

See, there ARE people just as dumb as you are, Izzy !

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Izaak Walton
March 26, 2021 12:16 am

So, not many, then, as I said. These where probably people who accidentally ingesteded the gas while attempting to siphon someone’s car. I’m surprised the number is so small.

But trust you to miss the point entirely. Bravo for being as dense as usual.

patrick healy
Reply to  Izaak Walton
March 26, 2021 5:01 am

Having just watched the pretend president Joe O’Bama make a staged press conference. got me thinking of lead poisoning symptoms.
Insomnia, delirium, COGNITIVE DEFICITS, hallucinations etc. is there a lead roof on the White House by any chance?

March 25, 2021 6:29 pm

Come on man…Joey just reads the cards they put in front of him…Joey sez all those leaking methane wells can be capped – see? Joey don’t know science among many subjects…Joey sez he didn’t know his son was smoking crack.

Reply to  Anti_griff
March 25, 2021 7:22 pm

Or that Hunter got kicked out of the military or that he has a blood line grandchild he has ignored and rejected.

Carlo, Monte
March 25, 2021 6:38 pm

Perovskites still have huge reliability problems, with lifetimes measured in units of hours to days. They have to be almost free to compete with crystalline silicon.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 25, 2021 9:29 pm

They are binary semiconductors in crystalline form, so reducing them to elemental forms requires significant heat.

Oxygen is not the friend of perovskites.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 26, 2021 11:05 am

If the finished Group III-V and Group II-VI solar cells are environmentally stable, the materials needed to fabricate them are not. For example, one way III-V devices(which includes non-PV devices like LEDs) like GaAs and InP are fabricated is with chemical vapor deposition (CVD). CVD uses high-purity source materials in the form of organo-metallics such as dimethyl-indium. These are highly toxic and unstable, and are usually pyrophoric.

March 25, 2021 6:46 pm

The fairy tale is contained in “agency committed to spending $128 million on technologies” to “cut the cost of solar energy by 60% over the next decade,” artfully placed at opposite ends of the news release. The insanity is in “decarbonize the United States’ power sector by 2035” by “solar energy … [to be] installed as much as five times faster” which ignores the real problems of centralized, federalized power production as well as the complete dependence of “renewable” energy on fossil fuels. Demented Joe can’t build, operate, or recover a single solar cell without an immense investment in additional coal, gas, and oil expenditure, all of which he’s already arranged to double in cost. I wouldn’t worry about the heavy metals.

March 25, 2021 6:50 pm

It’s just a more efficient way for China to sell us our future hazardous waste problems.

Joel O'Bryan
March 25, 2021 6:51 pm

Climate change and its renewable energy claims have zero to do with climate and the environment. That should be blatantly obvious to anyone paying attention at this point in the Socialists’ drive to enslave and thus drive the western middle class to serfdom via energy poverty.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 25, 2021 8:01 pm

Clarification: intermittent/renewable energy. Follow the sun. The winds, when they blow within range. Otherwise, go Green, by carbon offsets, stay carbon neutral. Be socially responsible.

Reply to  n.n
March 25, 2021 9:20 pm

“Otherwise, go Green, by paying poor folk to do stupid, unproductive things that make you believe you have cancelled your own ‘carbon footprint’ so you can tell the rest of your rich friends how Green and virtuous you are by pretending you are saving the world from imagined problems”
There, fixed it for you!

March 25, 2021 7:20 pm

It really doesn’t matter how cheap photovoltaic panels are. They could be free and the other costs of installing them would still make the system cost nonviable. link For commercial and residential installations, the photovoltaic module is a small proportion of the total cost. The situation is somewhat better for utility scale installations.

The linked yahoo story doesn’t give a hint about efficiency. If you could make the cells twice as efficient, you would reduce the cost of mounting them by more than half. photovoltaic efficiency

As far as I can tell, the metric that matters is EROEI, Energy Returned On Energy Invested. This article describes the EROEI cliff. That is the point at which a technology doesn’t create enough energy to replace itself and provide useful energy to the economy at the same time. Trying to rely on such energy would lead to the collapse of the economy, society, and civilization itself.

There is currently no photovoltaic technology that provides enough energy to replace itself and, at the same time, provide useful energy to society. If we can double or triple the efficiency and solve the storage problem, that would be a different story. In the mean time, I will be shopping for a new saddle for my unicorn.

What’s my point? Working to make photovoltaic panels cheaper is barking up the wrong tree.

Izaak Walton
Reply to  commieBob
March 25, 2021 7:48 pm

But if you make photovoltaic panels last twice as long then their EROEI doubles from about 6 to 12 putting them on the right side of the EROEI cliff.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
March 25, 2021 8:14 pm

Something like that … Doesn’t it depend on the interest rate at which you finance the installation?

The linked EROEI Cliff article makes the distinction between buffered and non-buffered energy. I suspect that, if you care when you get your electricity, that’s the buffered case and photovoltaic would still below the knee.

It’s not like I don’t like photovoltaic systems. I’ve used them to power remote instrumentation and they were an order of magnitude better than any other alternative. The payback was measured in months, not years.

Last edited 1 year ago by commieBob
Reply to  commieBob
March 25, 2021 8:42 pm

What is the cost of needing power when power is not available?

Husband: Honey I am going to start the dishwasher.
Wife: you can’t!
Husband: why not?
Wife: clouds

Last edited 1 year ago by Derg
Reply to  Derg
March 26, 2021 1:02 am

The ancient Chinese Daoist, Zhuangzi, tells the story of a fish trapped in a rut in the road.

The fish begged a man to bring him a bucket of water so he could go on living. The man offered to get someone else to do a project to divert the river and free the fish.

The fish replied that if he had to wait for that to happen, he would end up in the dried fish market by the next morning. link

Instead of not being able to use the dish washer, how about the case where people can’t cook or heat their houses for a week or two in the dead of winter.

The alarmists would mischaracterize a lack of electricity as a mere inconvenience. Actually, for urban dwellers who can’t go out into the forest to gather twigs, electricity is a necessity of life.

The folks in Texas experienced what it is like to go without electricity for a little while. What if they had to go without electricity for a long while?

Because of their superior ‘education’ the alarmists are able to ignore wisdom that is ancient and fundamental. Taleb would describe them as Intellectual Yet Idiot.

Last edited 1 year ago by commieBob
Reply to  commieBob
March 26, 2021 12:23 pm

Instead of not being able to use the dish washer, how about the case where people can’t cook or heat their houses for a week or two in the dead of winter.

Last year we had a really bad January storm that took out some electrical trunk lines. I was out of power for 4 days with highs in the 30’s, maybe 40’s (F) and lows in the teens. Fortunately, my fireplace kept the house livable.

I think a lot of these green energy advocates have little if any experience with those kind of situations.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Izaak Walton
March 25, 2021 9:37 pm

Increasing PV module lifetime by a factor of two is a hard road to follow–the current glass-EVA-silicon-EVA-Tedlar design was developed at JPL in the late 70s and has not been significantly improved in the last 40 years (except for mass production). No radically different module designs have appeared with such huge increases in reliability.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
March 25, 2021 11:19 pm

Still no use at night, under clouds, under snow.

A WASTE OF MONEY and a severe pollutant load that is totally unnecessary and needs 100% back-up with RELIABLE supply sources.

Integration costs into a grid are ENORMOUS, and never counted by the AGW cultist apologists like you.

comment image

Not only that, but because REAL SUPPLIES are forced off the grid by idiotic subsidies and moronic feed-in mandates, they cause a very large rise in the real cost of electricity as well as building UNRELIABILITY into grids that were once reasonably stable. A problem that is a HUGE cost to overcome.

Last edited 1 year ago by fred250
Timo, not that one
Reply to  fred250
March 26, 2021 5:31 am

Not to mention that you would have to cover every park, forest, and farmers field on the planet, and you still wouldn’t be generating even half the energy we already use.

Charles Fairbairn
Reply to  commieBob
March 26, 2021 3:26 am

Yes the EROEI metric in energy terms obeys the second law of thermodynamics. If you monetise this metric and fiddle the books you can persuade yourself of anything. That is what the Greens do.

March 25, 2021 7:32 pm

looks like the old adage “quality, not quantity” holds true for “free” energy as well… and there is nothing more expensive than “free” energy.

Last edited 1 year ago by goracle
March 25, 2021 7:37 pm

Reading the climate plan at is like stepping through the Looking Glass with Alice.
I have never seen a greater wish list, nor one less plausible.
If the President believes he is going to coax China and other developing countries to greatly decrease their emissions when they have no such present obligations nor financial imposts under the Paris Accord,he has lost all touch with reality.
I doubt he understands the feasibility or cost of any of the policies he is advocating.
Is it possible to put in Times Square an electronic display showing “green jobs” created and traditional jobs lost?
We have a “Climate clock” (6 years and 283 days to climate Armageddon etc.) and a Doomsday Clock (100 seconds to midnight and the end of days).
So let’s have an “Employment Clock” showing the “millions and millions of green jobs” created during the Biden administration, versus real jobs lost.
Is someone counting?

Reply to  Herbert
March 25, 2021 9:25 pm

As I understand it, you also have a public debt clock, showing how much every American owe the banksters. I don’t know what the current tally is, since they moved it to a back wall on some obscure part of town?
Thank goodness for solid state electronics. A mechanical debt counter running during our current “15 days to flatten the curve” exercise, would have melted the gears by now.

Reply to  Herbert
March 26, 2021 9:31 am

let us also run all of those clocks on a power source that doesn’t create ANY carbon dioxide or use any natural oil & gas in the production process.

March 25, 2021 7:56 pm

Unreliable, unsustainable, intermittent/renewable energy, toxic, and a Green blight. One step forward, two steps backward.

March 25, 2021 8:26 pm

This article would be a lot better if you included concentrations of dopants and other chemicals you’re criticizing. Yes, some of what you mention is pretty bad*, but for arsenic as a dopant, check out :

N- and p-doped semiconductors behave approximately equal in relation to the current flow. With increasing amount of dopants, the number of charge carriers increases in the semiconductor crystal. Here it requires only a very small amount of dopants. Weakly doped silicon crystals contain only 1 impurity per 1,000,000,000 silicon atoms, high doped semiconductors for example contain 1 foreign atom per 1,000 silicon atoms.

*: As for “There is a reason governments are moving away from allowing the addition of small amounts of organic lead to gasoline,” the Smithsonian has some qualitative text at says:

From about 1930 onwards, the consumption of lead in gasoline increased steadily and peaked at over 270 000 metric tonnes in the early 1970s (Fig. 1). By summing the data in the figure, it is estimated that over seven million tonnes of lead was burned as lead additives in the United States between 1926 and 1985. Assuming an average lead concentration of 0.4 g [per liter], it is estimated that about 20 trillion (20 x 10^12) liters of leaded gasoline were produced during the 60-year period. In terms of the volume alone, leaded gasoline must be ranked among the top organic chemicals used by modern society.

By the time we got around to banning leaded gasoline, soil concentrations in urban soil were readily measurable.

Reply to  Ric Werme
March 25, 2021 8:45 pm

By the time we got around to banning leaded gasoline, soil concentrations in urban soil were readily measurable.”

And somehow humanity thrived…actually it exploded. Interesting 🤔

Reply to  Derg
March 25, 2021 11:28 pm

So you aren’t concerned about the stuff Eric wrote about, right?

Reply to  Ric Werme
March 26, 2021 3:00 am

Did humanity thrive if not excelled?

Curious minds want to know.

Reply to  Derg
March 27, 2021 1:33 am

It’s weird how generations born after lead was banned from gasoline and paint, etc., seemed to have gone down in intelligence, not up.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Ric Werme
March 26, 2021 3:08 am

Rooftop installations of these panels seems to me to be the least of the potential for contamination. What happens when thousands of them are installed on acres of land?

Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
March 26, 2021 9:05 am

The materials would need to be mined, processed, and recycled or disposed in HUGE quantities.. All of those steps would contribute to environmental contamination. It would be good to estimate the impacts before embarking on something that without a viable means of storage would prove to be folly.

March 25, 2021 8:45 pm

So just how much more environmentally and economically acceptable will solar panels have to become to match fossil fuels is the real question.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  markl
March 26, 2021 3:10 am

Greens already find solar panels environmentally acceptable because they are unable to grasp what goes into making them.

Reply to  markl
March 27, 2021 1:39 am

They will never be a true replacement for reliable energy sources like fuels and nuclear power because they are at the mercy of the weather. Storage tech improvements will help, but I don’t think it will help bridge the gap. Except for remote places where shipping fuel is expensive, so-called renewable energy sources will have to be forced on us or else they would be shunned and the green-scammers impoverished.

Michael S. Kelly
March 25, 2021 9:01 pm

The principal problems of solar are: 1) Intermittency, due to the diurnal cycle; 2) Intermittency, due to sporadic cloud cover; 3) Intermittency, due to dust and rain accumulating on the surfaces; 4) Low power output per unit area.

Those are big problems, but here’s a solution. Put space solar power arrays in geosynchronous orbit, where the diurnal intermittency problem goes away, and get rid of the remaining problems by having the receiving photovoltaics mounted on 150,000 foot tall towers made out of alumina honeycomb bricks. The photovoltaic receivers can be made to have a bandgap equal to the transmitting laser wavelength, in an “eye safe” region of the infrared, thus having very high efficiency. Instead of the conventional 1,362 W/m^2 insolation, the solar power satellites could illuminate the receiver with a power density of ~13 kW/m^2. The elevation of the receiving PVs would ensure that neither weather nor dust would ever reduce the power density. And, in fact, the PVs would have the same kind of life expectancy as solar panels on spacecraft.

You’ll find that the compressive strength of alumina allows such towers to be built, with a lot of structural margin. I propose honeycomb simply to reduce the total amount of material required. But aluminum and oxygen are two of the most common elements on Earth, so it isn’t like we couldn’t get enough.

I suggest that the USG funds several “studies” of this concept with all haste. It’ll keep the bozos busy, and off our backs…

Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
March 27, 2021 1:43 am

…just build “150,000 foot tall towers made out of alumina honeycomb bricks.” 50km tall??? 30 miles???

kevin kilty
March 25, 2021 9:05 pm

If this is a plan to make solar energy cheaper they have misunderstood the problem. It’s the intermittancy and need for backup and storage that doesn’t exist.

K. McNeill
March 25, 2021 9:06 pm

At least it will keep the moss off the roof.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  K. McNeill
March 25, 2021 10:33 pm

Completely not at all – the moss and lichens simply overtake the panels

If your roof, concrete tiles in all probability, is growing moss – replace it.

Carbonic Acid has been eating your roof since the day it was constructed and by the time moss is growing, the tiles have become porous. ##
The woodwork holding them up inside the roof will thus be getting damp & going mouldy – creating dust & spores. Usually black in colour.

Add those to the spores coming off the top-side of the roof, also your neighbours roofs probably, and you have a completely inescapable blizzard of stuff promoting ‘co-morbidities’. Fungal spores are horrible things when they get into you and your lungs.

There’s another one for the data miners – how many Covid victims lived/died in houses with mossy tiled roofs?
Not picturesque or romantic.

## Depends on local rainfall amount. Allow about 30 years of roof-life per metre of annual rainfall for concrete tiles and about 90 years for slate.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peta of Newark
March 25, 2021 9:08 pm

Cadmium is quite an interesting carcinogen (linked to renal cancer). There are DNA binding proteins known as “Zinc Fingers“, which among other things are believed to block the expression of oncogenes. So, as Cadmium lies directly below Zinc in the periodic table it becomes a Zinc mimic. A similar relationship exists between Phosphorus and Arsenic on the periodic table, so when Arsenate replaces Phosphate in glycolysis, ATP production is disrupted (resulting in poisoning). Carbon – Silicon is another periodic table pair, hence speculation about Silicon based life forms in science fiction.

Last edited 1 year ago by Anon
Reply to  Anon
March 25, 2021 11:27 pm

See – search for |pyramid|. Stanley G. Weinbaum’s A Martian Odessey, from 1949.

Steve Z
Reply to  Anon
March 26, 2021 1:09 pm

As long as we’re discussing columns in the period table, tellurium is in the same column as oxygen in the periodic table (with sulfur and selenium in between). Oxygen is more reactive than tellurium, so in the event of a fire of a cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar panel, cadmium oxide could be formed.

Tellurium is similar to sulfur, in that it can be both a negative ion (Te-2) or form acids as a positive ion, such as H2TeO3 (tellurous acid) or H3TeO6 (telluric acid). In the event of a fire, if tellurium is displaced from CdTe, it can become oxidized, and form tellurium oxides which are solids at room temperature, but could be carried as particulates in a fire. These oxides could form acids if reacted with water, although these acids are not as strong as the corresponding acids of sulfur.

Chris Nisbet
March 25, 2021 11:44 pm

Let’s say the old coot is correct about the prices dropping by 60%, and let’s say this makes them a viable option.
If the price really will drop by that much he’s just given me a good reason to delay putting some on my roof right now, and wait til the price comes down.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Chris Nisbet
March 27, 2021 11:11 am

The same people who predicted oil to go up, then it dropped
Then they predicted it will stay low or go lower, and it goes up
Renewable electricity will be too cheap to meter
Renewables are cheaper, yet they always cause the price to increase

March 26, 2021 1:22 am

And where is the evidence that these materials can get out into the environment or into humans?

Reply to  griff
March 26, 2021 3:07 am

What is the point of building a solar panel in the first place?

I guess for off the grid situations you could use them, but on the grid they do nothing but drive up costs due to being intermittent. Nuclear is a far superior solution to those stupid windmills and solar panels.

Reply to  griff
March 26, 2021 3:26 am

Seriously griff.. you will try any LIE that your pitiful little mind can MAKE UP.

You get a solar panel fire, OF COURSE all the nasties get put into the atmosphere.

And unlike CO2, these are actually VERY TOXIC…..

“They found toxic gases including sulfur dioxide, hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen cyanide and a small amount of volatile organic compounds”

Panels also degrade over time, releasing these TOXIC materials into the environment

Also the panels themselves are very difficult to recycle, so are left in dumps, further destroying the environment with TOXIC chemicals.

And of course all the subsidies cause “fly-by-night” installers

Solar panels are, if anything, EVEN WORSE THAN WIND TURBINES when it come to environmental damage.

Reply to  fred250
March 26, 2021 6:36 am

RBMK reactors can’t explode. So why worry about something that will never happen? They should put that on our money.

Reply to  griff
March 26, 2021 9:38 am

where is the evidence that carbon dioxide increases in the environment are harmful to anything?

Griff, you HYPOCRITICAL ignorant slut.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  griff
March 27, 2021 11:09 am

Hahahaha Griff asks for evidence.

-provide evidence polar bears are suffering due to low summer sea ice
-that max temps are increasing
-that the planet is worse off

Not model outputs

Bruce Cobb
March 26, 2021 5:23 am

Watermelons don’t actually care about the environment, any more than they care about humans, much as they purport to. It is a destructive ideology which is all they care about.

March 26, 2021 6:33 am

H/T ResourceGuy

Actually, I was trying to call attention to the next round of DOE spending on concentrating solar after they played a significant role in taxpayer losses on projects that lost hundreds of millions in loans and grants.

As for CdTe toxicity, the encapsulated and layered chemical vapor deposition of the micrograms of semiconductive material is safe and certified by the US, EU, and international safety and engineering standards. First Solar is also the only solar company with a recycling program built into the price and guarantee. Also, the panels are mainly used in utility scale projects with further certifications for salt, wind, and hail damage ratings. Sometimes shoot-from-the-hip scare posts are not a good idea.

Our Technology | First Solar

Recycling | First Solar

Sustainability Documents | First Solar

March 26, 2021 6:52 am

Now this is the bad Biden idea that does need to be called out. It is mainly for the benefit of the high cost producers and rooftop installers with their lobbyists–yet again.

Renewable-Energy Backers Want 10-Year Tax Credits in Biden Plan (

March 26, 2021 7:16 am

The scientific and industrially ignorant assume the rule of thumb (Moore’s Law) that estimates cost improvement rates of solid state devices is somehow applicable to all new technology. However, mechanical and chemical innovations do not behave in the same way over time and Mr. Moore’s “law” does not apply.

Ol’ Joe and his ill-informed advisors seem to share the delusion, and also believe that throwing money at a problem is certain to result in the desired outcome.

CD in Wisconsin
March 26, 2021 8:03 am

Is in not true that whatever Biden and the federal govt try to do to make solar panels cheaper, the Chinese still have lower labor costs which cannot be matched in the U.S. labor force?
So even if cheaper materials are found for solar panel manufacturing, the Chinese can still make them cheaper with the new materials, correct?.

And this does not change the fact that a massive land area is required for solar panels to displace coal and natural gas on a large scale. You cannot deal with the poor energy density of solar using cheaper materials with which to make the panels.

This is what happens when we are dealing with clueless ideologues instead of people that operate on facts, logic and reasoning.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
March 26, 2021 4:29 pm

You are missing a few things from the armchair.

It is true that China has the labor cost advantage but the industry has moved to highly automated panel factories. China’s other cost competitiveness comes from going large like it did in many other industries, low regulatory cost issues, and a cost of capital this is not high like in other low cost developing countries. Material input costs were also held down by massive investment by silicon ingot and cell producers. The one US-based CdTe producer managed to hang on with a complete product line upgrade cycle and enough volume expansion to stay in the bottom rung of the top 10 super league list globally. Hang on in this case means solid balance sheet and good gross margins, with another tech upgrade coming and a further 30% cost reduction in the 3-year horizon.

Ending the investment tax credit would help in this situation because it would limit some of the market growth for China in the idiotic residential rooftop segment and let the best of breed players focus on utility scale and community scale. But of course the rooftop lobbyists are making the move on Biden.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  ResourceGuy
March 27, 2021 11:05 am

Here in southern AB they are going to put in a 565mw solar installation that will cover 6 square miles of otherwise useful prairie, and looking at the AESO page for solar sites, this new one will produce maybe 25mw at noon on January 1

A “good” investment?

March 26, 2021 10:43 am

In Australia rural population collect and store rain water from roofs for domestic use. With the proliferation of roof top solar could this water supply be at risk especially with damaged, cracked panels?

Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 27, 2021 10:50 am

No it is not. These are stable compounds. They have different properties than their constituent elements. It will not contaminate your runoff water. The author needs to review his basic chemistry.

Reply to  nickc
March 27, 2021 2:00 am

They got rid of lead roof flashing , only to replace it with a veritable cocktail of highly toxic solar panel ingredients.. by choice !!!

SO DUMB is that !!

Last edited 1 year ago by fred250
March 26, 2021 12:54 pm

This is the same government, you might recall, that insisted we stop using tungsten lights and switch over to fluorescent bulbs containing toxic mercury. Then told us we had to dispose of them properly. Then never made arrangements for us to do so.

March 27, 2021 10:24 am

Remember your high school chemistry, please. You are talking about compounds. By the flawed logic displayed here, since hydrogen is flammable in air, we should get all the water out of our homes immediately! Si doped with tiny amounts of arsenic is stable. Your computer has lots of it. Are you afraid of your computer? GaAs is stable. Pb perovskites are stable. They are effectively just man-made minerals. I made this stuff, and other less pleasant materials for decades. The end product is safe. The manufacturing process can be very hazardous, but there is a long engineering history of solutions and procedures to deal with the hazards. Solar power is impractical and expensive. Stick to those arguments. They are accurate. This worry over solid state devices is nonsense.

Reply to  Monster
March 27, 2021 10:43 am


Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Monster
March 27, 2021 11:01 am

My laptop does not sit on my roof in sun, rain, cold, heat, getting weather beaten and leaching out materials that then runs off into the soil around the house where is grow food.

So yes, I don’t particularly worry about my laptop

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
March 27, 2021 11:23 am

These materials don’t “leech”. The constituent elements are not in solution, they are compounds. They are also crystalline/ceramic. You can weather them, abrade them, smash them with a hammer – you simply get smaller pieces of them. Sunlight or heating in a fire will not change that. You need to take them to temperatures of a thousand degrees Celsius or more to melt them. They are insoluble in water. They will not contaminate drinking water with their constituent elements. The concerns about this are unfounded.

In both solar panels and your computer, greater hazards exist from the lead-free solders, adhesives, plastics and other materials used in the construction of the finished product. The solid state materials are harmless.

Last edited 1 year ago by Monster
March 27, 2021 10:50 am

“If you thought Arsenic doped Silicon or Gallium Arsenide on your roof was bad” …. you probably know nothing about doping levels in semiconductors and don’t realise that radioactive waste is often stabilised by vitrificaiton before burial.

Last edited 1 year ago by Greg
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